Ringmaster Joseph Bauer Jr. Leads Circus Sarasota Once Again

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Ringmaster Joseph Bauer Jr. Photo courtesy of CAC.

A lot falls on the shoulders of a Ringmaster. The job is equal parts storyteller and emcee, not only responsible for introducing each act of the circus, but for moving it along with pace and telling the story of the show. The Ringmaster, to be blunt, is the person you pay attention to. The weight of the circus rests upon them. So it’s a good thing that Joseph Bauer, Jr. is used to carrying the load. “This is my 14th year with Circus Sarasota, but I have been a Ringmaster for over 30 years and represent nine generations of circus artists in my family,” says Bauer, Jr.

Bauer, a Sarasota native and member of one of Switzerland’s oldest circus families, will be Ringmaster once again for the 2024 installment of Circus Sarasota. The circus, presented by the Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC), features a number of the top circus acts from around the world, including the Flying Tabares–the world’s preeminent flying trapeze act–the Bello Sisters with acrobatic hand balancing, the diablo juggling of Elan España and more.

“There’s just so much in this show and I’m always honored to be a part of it because of the fact that it is the finest circus that plays in our home town,” says Bauer. “The CAC makes such big efforts to bring these acts from Europe and all over the world, from flying them in, to housing and figuring out visas, there’s just so much that goes into bringing these people in to perform alongside all the great talent here.”

Bauer, however, is more than just the voice of the circus. A renowned aerialist, Bauer has long thrilled audiences with his record-breaking performances on the “Wheel of Thrills” as well as skywalks on the high-wire and various acts on the 90-foot sway pole. It is Bauer’s experience as an aerialist–an act that he continues to perform in his 50s–that has guided him into being the best Ringmaster that he can be. “I think that’s one of the things that’s been a big advantage for me as host and ringmaster, is that I’ve been the one in the ring doing the tricks. I know how the performers would like to feel when I’m announcing them,” says Bauer. “That’s what I look forward to every time we have new artists.”

February 16 through March 10; showtimes are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 7 pm.; Fridays at 7pm; and Sundays at 1 and 5pm, Nathan Benderson Park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota.

Pictured: Ringmaster Joseph Bauer Jr. Photo courtesy of CAC.

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