If you were not in downtown D.C. this past Tuesday night, you missed a very unusual sight. Instead of a snarling line of cars moving down South Capitol Street, like every evening commute, the road was closed off. Parading down, instead of traffic, was a pack of elephants.
Yes. Elephants. Which can only mean one thing.
The circus is in town. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s traveling extravaganza has come to the District, where, starting Thursday, they will put on nine shows.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is one of the oldest traveling circuses in the world, having formed in 1907. They still travel from city to city in their signature trains, and they pulled into Washington with animals and acts in tow.
The circus has displaced two Washington’s tenants from their home for the weekend. The Washington Capitals and Wizards have been on the road since the beginning of this week, so the circus can set up at the Verizon Center.
And set up they will, for it’s one of the biggest shows to ever hit the city. This theme of the performance is Dragons, and with a name so epic, the show is designed to live up to expectations.
Ringling Bros. and Barney & Bailey have numerous performers that showcase a range of unique skills and daring stunts. Among them are the Cossacks, a riding troupe that flies around the arena in tightly choreographed formations, including setting up a five-man pyramid atop two galloping horses.
But that’s just one bit of danger and delight that you will see over the course of the entire show. Also traveling with the circus is the Shaolin Troupe. These martial arts disciples practice the ancient art of qigong, which involves meditating for hours on end to steel themselves for feats of strength and will. Members of the Shaolin Troupe balance standing on the points of spears and will dive through sets of spinning swords. The entire show will amaze you with the abilities of the human mind and body.
Some acts at the circus are certainly without fright, but no less enjoyable. Dog trainers come out with canines that perform a variety of tricks, from doing somersaults to jumping off of high dives.
If you like high-flying acts, the Flying Caceres will be there performing wild trapeze stunts, swinging well above the audience while twisting and twirling through the air. And in one of the most astounding acts of the performance, the Torres Family takes on the Globe of Steel, which consists of eight motorcycle riders speeding at 65 miles an hour, all locked inside a steel sphere that’s no more than 20 feet wide. It will leave you holding your breath, anxious for the riders’ safety. But they wouldn’t be in the circus if they couldn’t perform.
Of course, there will be the elephants, as well as other circus staples, from tigers to bumbling clowns.
The circus performs its opening show Thursday morning and then again that night. There’s one evening show on Friday, then three performances on Saturday and Sunday, at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.. After that, they’ll pack up the train and head to Baltimore. But if you miss them this week, they’ll be in Fairfax County after that, at the Patriot Center. Tickets for the D.C. show run from just $10, which, when you think about it, is a pretty reasonable price to catch the greatest show on Earth.
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