AR-News: No "performing" animals in Circus Chimera

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Fri Aug 29 16:18:06 EDT 2003

Vail Daily 

August 27, 2003
The kid who ran away with the circus
Wren Wertin

It's not just a circus - it's a story. Circus Chimera puts on a big show under the big top, and it's geared for the entire family. They'll be ready to go at Vail's Ford Park this Saturday through Monday. Look for the enormous tent flanked by inflatables, rides and a reptile area.

Described as "Cirque du Soleil without an attitude," the circus' 2003 theme is "Suenos de Luna," or "Moon Dreams." During the course of the show, Russian Alina Sergeeva, 10, and Argentinian Rodrigo Fernandez, 10, both dream of joining the circus. Woven throughout Alina's and Rodrigo's scenes are fog, fire and death-defying numbers.

Circus Chimera isn't just a family show, it's a family, period. The performers travel together during the year, stopping in small towns and big cities to spin their tales of the moon. Be they gravity-defying, optical illusions or sheer thrill, it's all eye candy. Foot jugglers, trapeze artists, motorcycle tricksters and pole-perching daredevils are all part of the Chimera family.

"The only good news in the newspaper is the circus," said James Judkins, producer, who brought the show to Vail last year, too. "One thing I like to do during a performance is look up and watch people's faces - it makes you feel like you're doing something good."

Judkins and his crew offer good, clean escapism with "Suenos de Luna." The two-hour adventure through time and space is more ensemble theater than anything, as most of the cast is involved in multiple acts, working with different people.

"Some of the acts are very simple, like skipping ropes," said Judkins. "But they're doing back flips and side flips and somersaults over the ropes. There are 10 people in a group doing it at one time."

They also have a teeterboard, loaded four men high. Motorcycles race around in a globe, and there's a pendulum act. Their juggler went to his first-ever competition and came away ranked fourth in the world - it's unusual for someone to even place in the top 20 the first few times.

"There's no announcing after a show starts - that's a distraction," said Judkins. "Each act has to be good enough to drive itself. We do have music specific for each act. You've got more of a package, not just a series of acts strewn together."

There is also a midway open before and after the show, and during intermission. A reptile exhibit includes snakes Judkins received from people tired of caring for them, and a dwarf horse he rescued from death since it's not absolutely perfect. The reptiles and the horses live in the same trailer Judkins does, though he's on the top floor.

"We don't have any performing animals," he said. "It's not so much that we're against them, just that we don't need them. The acts are good enough on their own ... When I ask people what they like about it, they all say, "The performers looked like they had a good time and I had a good time, too.'"

When Judkins formed the show, he was up against a lot of people who wanted to pigeonhole them as "a kiddy thing." But he stresses that they're good for all ages. In other countries, circus performers are stars, well thought of. He's trying to bring it up to that level.

No seat is further than 60 feet from the performance area. Circus Chimera performs Saturday at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. and Monday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Prices for adults 15-65 range from $12 to $18, and children 14 and under and seniors 65 or older range from $8 to $14. For more information or to order tickets call toll-free at (888)ONE-RING.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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