Sailor Circus Unveils Holiday Spectacular for Limited Run

Performance

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY DEC 26, 2018

Celebrate the holiday season circus-style with Big Top Holidays, a special four-day spectacle from the talented performers of Sailor Circus. Under the direction of a new creative director in Jared Walker—and performing under the canvas confines of the Ulla Searing Big Top at Nathan Benderson Park—these budding students of the circus arts have assembled a production to both wow and amaze. Opening Thursday, December 27, the performance runs only through December 30. Tickets are on sale.

Featuring at least 14 acts, audiences will see everything from the high-flying to the high-speed and all the jaw-dropping feats in between, as the young performers push their skills and bodies to the limit. Aerial silks, acrobatics, unicycles, juggling, high wire acts, trapeze and more all enter the equation, creating a wintertime circus spectacular to showcase the magic of circus arts and the strength of Sailor Circus in particular. “What they pull off is really spectacular,” says Walker. “The strength and training that it takes to do what they’re doing is truly astounding to me on a day-to-day basis.”

Because while Walker has only held the post of creative director for eight weeks (though local audiences may recognize him from his time with Golden Apple Dinner Theater, the Players Theatre or even a stint as ringmaster in this year’s Summer Circus Spectacular), he’s already no stranger to the punishing regimens that the students of Sailor Circus follow. For five days a week, he says, the performers head straight to practice from school, and train until at least 8pm in the evening. Some train for multiple acts, lifting fellow acrobats for an hour and a half before swinging from trapezes and then riding unicycles and bicycles for hours in some sort of circus triathlon. Visitors can also expect some real holiday touches more than guaranteed to rouse a belly laugh or at least raise an eyebrow, such as “reindeer” in bathing suits enjoying a festive unicycle outing.

New this year, the holiday production moves from the Sailor Circus Arena (under construction until mid-February) to a big top installed at Nathan Benderson Park. Erected since October, and featuring a new lighting system, the change of venue adds a sense of classic circus, but also comes with its challenges, such as inclement weather that last week forced the cancellation of some practices. Undeterred, Walker plans to open the show with a new act called “Thunderstruck,” featuring six artists on six trapezes and a healthy dose of AC/DC. “That’ll open the show like a Florida thunderstorm,” he says.

Big Top Holidays opens this Thursday, December 27, at Nathan Benderson Park, and runs through December 30. Showtimes are 2pm and 7pm every day except Sunday, which has a single performance at 5pm. Tickets are $15–$30.

Pictured: Sailor Circus Academy students perform acrobatic adagio. Photo by John Jones.

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