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Death Of The Circus

from WaPo via MSN

Opinions | The disappearance of the circus from American life leaves us lonelier

by Les Standiford

Johnathan Lee Iverson et al. on a stage: Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson says farewell to the crowd alongside Paulo Dos Santos, center, and Tatiana Tchalabaev, right, at the end of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Uniondale, N.Y., in 2017. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson says farewell to the crowd alongside Paulo Dos Santos, center, and Tatiana Tchalabaev, right, at the end of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Uniondale, N.Y., in 2017. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The cry “the circus is coming to town” once signaled a fourth major holiday, equivalent with Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Shops, public offices and schools closed, and an entire populace assembled to witness the parade of bands, clowns, exotic animals and bejeweled performers marching from the rail yards to the circus grounds, paced by aromatic elephants and shrieking calliope music all the way. But the circus did more than entertain. It reassured Americans that anything was possible.

The circus has roots extending back to Greek and Roman times when emperors stalked wild beasts in coliseums to the delight of crowds. It was revived in Turkey in the Middle Ages when acrobats walked ropes that stretched from one ship’s mast to that of another. During the 18th century, British equestrians found gainful employment after life in the calvary corps by performing impossible feats of horsemanship inside a carefully measured ring (42 feet in diameter to this day, maximizing the centripetal force that plants a performer upon the mount).

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Posted on June 20, 2021 by Editor

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