Meet the ‘miracle’ masters behind Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus

ENTB_Circus_1016

From Vaudeville to old medicine shows to Cirque du Soleil, America’s love affair with the circus has endured. And, for many, the one beneath the Big Top remains the most enchanting of all.

“There is a certain spirit of the circus that continues to attract people to the show even after 144 years,” says Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson. “People love a spectacle, and the idea of a miracle. Watching someone like my assistant Paulo fly through the air or perform these strenuous acrobatics impeccably, as a little person, it’s like a miracle.”

“His skills show how we can transcend our own limitations,” he continues. “The circus is like a world of miracles.”

Iverson has a commanding presence, standing at about 6’3″ — 6’6″ if he’s wearing his red, white and blue-sequined top hat. At his side, more often than not, is his 4-foot-tall Brazilian assistant and sidekick, Paulo dos Santos. The two are like peas in a pod. Almost unconsciously, in conversation, one will proudly tout the other’s skills, while the recipient of the praise smiles modestly in recognition. For the past three years the two have traveled, lived, practiced and performed together in 1,200 shows.

They’ll perform a few more here in Boston in “Dragons,” a two-and-half-hour show celebrating the Year of the Dragon, in which acrobats soar through the air; lions, tigers and elephants gallantly perform alongside their trainers; and countless men fearlessly enter what has appropriately been dubbed the Globe of Death.

Nearly 130 circus performers display their acrobatic skills and push what seem like superhuman extremes in an attempt to emulate the elusive dragon, whose attributes of courage, wisdom and strength are demonstrated in the incredible circus acts themselves.

“We have a great relationship that thrives on the fact that we both continue to teach each other new things,” says Santos, of his co-star. “We both have always dreamed of performing for audiences as large as we are now, and can’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to put on a show that makes so many people happy.”

It’s hard for Iverson and Santos to imagine a life without the circus. “The circus is truly a lifestyle. It’s all that we do, and who we are,” says Iverson. “We are a unique little community where everything revolves around the circus. We work together, we live together, and we travel together. We really are the things that we do in the show, there’s no acting.”

After 15 years with Ringling Bros., Iverson isn’t surprised that so many people continue to flock to the circus each year.

“There is something about authenticity that audiences respect,” he says. “Every year we continue to create an innovative circus spectacular.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal prosecutors charge 3 men in multi-million dollar…

Federal prosecutors in New York charged three men in connection with a $33 million fine art scam that spanned more than two decades.

Local

Metro-North unveils solar-powered kiosks at Bronx station

The Woodlawn station will take part a pilot program to test solar-powered kiosk with real-time arrival and departure times for connecting services.

Local

Central Park's Tavern on the Green to reopen…

The famous Central Park restaurant Tavern on the Green will once again welcome diners on Thursday, April 24 after its closure in January 2010.

National

University of New Mexico running back arrested for…

By Joseph J. KolbALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A University of New Mexico football player has been arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a…

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.