Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth

Barnum, Bailey, and all the Ringling Brothers can eat their hearts out.  For - I think - the second time since I came to Mongolia, there's a performance on at the State Circus, in the heart of UB, and it's a doozy.  It was an international collaboration that involved performers from Mongolia and twelve other countries, each better than the last.
While the state circus is a permanent building, it's built on a small scale, and I thought this performance gave you more of an idea what a traditional circus (minus the animals) might have been like back in the days of PT and his humbug.
I mean, we had a freaking ringmaster, for crying out loud...
 ...not to mention a live band...
...and real roustabouts pulling the ropes to raise and lower a couple of very buff Canadian boys.  None of this electrical pulleys nonsense.
I went on the second night of the engagement, while some more of my friends went the night before.  I was warned about the Canadian boys, who I can not deny are quite toned.  I have to say there is something a little more homoerotic about men performing together than there is about women.
See what I mean?  However, Geek and I both agreed that didn't bother us in the least - still talking about the men here, although the Mongolian contortionists were amazing.  We were particularly intrigued by the fact that one of them was what we considered "real person sized."  Most contortionists are ridiculously skinny, but one of these girls was big enough to be noticeable.  Five and I both walked away thinking we ought to try it.
But then again....maybe not.  This was the American contortionist, and if the first minute of the first performance proved to me that circuses exist purely to drive home exactly how inept I am when it comes to anything involving coordination and athleticism - and it did - this was just showing off.  I mean, I couldn't hope to shoot that bow and hit the target, let alone do it with my feet while upside down and twisted like a pretzel.  Come ON!
Once upon a time my great uncle Ray taught me a couple of rope tricks at the Duncan family reunion and I felt pretty proud of myself.  Good thing I hadn't seen these guys!  They later did a performance in which they jumped - from a run, no springboards involved - through hoops.  Stacked on hoops.  Stacked on more hoops.  They looked like seals flying through the air and then sliding onto the ground.  The finale of that performance required one of the acrobats to stand on the other's shoulders in order to stack the rings to their full height.  If you have to stand on someone's shoulders to finish the stack, mere mortals have no business jumping through the damn thing, but he did it.  It was crazy.  I have no pictures of that part, because that was after the third time the usher told me to stop taking pictures, and I was starting to worry I'd get kicked out.
The Russian act had the biggest OH MY GOSH THOSE GUYS ARE GOING TO DIE! factor for me.  Remember what I said about a more traditional circus?  The men throwing these tiny little Russian devotchkas back and forth set up their equipment at half time, and the "net" was a strip of what looked like plastic two or three feet off the ground.  It held up the guy with the broken arm (how did he break it?  One does wonder these things) standing on it without too much give, but I was just as glad those girls didn't get dropped.  I might have screamed like a little girl at one point.
Remember what I said about the first act driving home what an athlete I am NOT?  This was the first act.  I can't double dutch, jump rope backwards, or cross it.  I'm doing good if I can keep up a good rhythm.  Apart from a lot of other really neat things (four Mongolian guys stacked horizontally jumping rope, or the one skipping rope by flopping off his belly like a landed fish) you had these show-offs.  Need I say more?
This guy was amazing, too.  Not to mention fun to look at, with all his pretty muscles.  He did a sort of contortion/Mongolian dance thing which was amazingly fluid and beautiful.  It was like watching poetry.
Finally, what kind of circus doesn't have a clown?  Not this circus.  Their clown hailed from Spain.  I wasn't that impressed with his first act, mainly because Geek got pulled up to be given a balloon swan after he popped his big balloon in my face.  He also pulled Fire Marshall into the ring, but you'll have to read about that on his blog.  I have to say that the most magical moment of the whole night was hearing the kids in the audience giggling over his antics.  His gags were killing them like a minute after they were finished, and it was infectious.  I'd go again in a heartbeat if I weren't busy the rest of this week, even if the tickets weren't the ridiculously reasonable price of 15,000 tugrugs.  I'll have my fingers crossed this becomes an annual event, because it was awesome.  Needless to say, I have spent the last 24 hours dreaming about running away and joining the circus, and not just because of the gorgeous men. Although they definitely help.

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