By Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki Clark
At some point, weâ€™ve all had the same dream. To run away with the circus. What an incredible feat it would be! To dazzle cheering crowds as a brave and daring lion tamer, capture the awe and wonder of the masses as a graceful dancer atop a beastly elephant. As I kid, I could almost hear the tense silence of the audience below as I fearlessly walked the trapeze. I could see the faces, waiting with bated breath, moments before I am shot from a cannon, in full and blazing glory, sailing magnificently above their heads.
Yeah. So that didnâ€™t end up happening.
Donâ€™t give me wrong. I love my job (which has nothing to do with the circus although in past careers I have certainly felt surrounded by clowns). And few of us actually end up following that particular dream. I had certainly never met anyone who had. Until Wednesday.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is in town. Their latest show, “Fully Charged“, is performing in Fairfax at the Patriot Center until April 15. As soon as I got wind, I jumped at the chance to go. I was greeted by the Fusco Brothers, Emiliano and Maximiliano. I could literally write a novel about the fascination that is their lives. Hereâ€™s the cliff notes:
Emiliano and Maximiliano are FIFTH generation circus performers. Their father was an Argentinean-renowned gaucho, their mother a contortionist. They have cousins in Cirque, a sister in Circus Circus in Las Vegas and Maximiliano is a Guinness Book Record Holder for juggling 5 clubs for 57 minutes straight. When they are not performing up to three shows a day, they practice upwards of 8 hours a day. As twins, they have an advantage as Emilianoâ€™s wife, and the twinsâ€™ assistant, Nicole tells me. â€œMost juggling acts yell at each other to signify they are ready. Most times Emiliano and Maximiliano know what the other is going to do without saying anything at all. Itâ€™s a twinâ€™s connection.â€
Which brings me to Nicole. She is the bonafide runaway-to-the-circuser I mentioned earlier. As an audience member in the crowd of Baraboo, Wisconsin, Emiliano found himself entranced with the beautiful Nicole. He gave her his phone number and they soon became a couple when she showed up at their next show, down the road at another town. Seven months later they were married and five months after that they were expecting their now four-year-old daughter Jasmine.
When I asked her the role she played in the show, she laughs. â€œWhat donâ€™t I do?â€ She rides the elephant in all its grandeur during the National Anthem. She helps the brothers with their act. As a dancer with 16 years experience herself, she helps with choreography and dances in the show herself.
Itâ€™s a fascinating lifeâ€”and showâ€”to say the least. Circus life has a certain amount of normality to it. Nicole talks about the great benefitsâ€”health insurance, a traveling daycare and school for the children of performers, getting the opportunity to see the world. But most importantly, she gets to spend every day with the man she loves the most, the man she literally ran away with the circus for.
Check out Fully Charged, and the Fusco Brothers, while you can. There are pre-show activities that allow families to interact with performers up close and learn circus tricks themselves. It truly is the greatest show on earth.
More information on tickets and dates are located at www.ticketmaster.com.
Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki McMillan is a part time photographer; full time Red Crosser and 24/7 big sister to fellow puncher Lindsey. She loves travel, puppy kisses (especially from her own, ichabob) and invites to bourbon-orientated events.