Circus Vargas: The Big One is Back!
by Jenni Roselle
Circus Vargas opened in Santa Barbara on June 16, 2011. And what an opening night it was! In addition to an already stellar show and a slew of new acts and new costumes, The Flying Tabares’ catcher, Alberto Marinelli was being welcomed home from his stint in Macau, China with Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia. The excitement of the show and Alberto’s homecoming were palpable. That excitement only grew through the night, as the audience was taken along on “an artistic journey, encompassing the cultures of the world, elegantly achieved through a series of circus vignettes depicting the experiences, memories and vision of a traveling circus performer.” (circusvargas.com)
The crew at Circus Vargas took the ring by storm in beautiful new costumes of blue, white and yellow, reminiscent of their majestic, Italian handmade big top . The opening act was an exciting teaser of what the show had in store-from lyra and hula hooping to an energetically choreographed dance number and just enough of a straps act to leave you waiting for more, the audience was on the edge of their seats from the very onset. And it was quite an audience for a Thursday night, with about 3/4 of the 1500 seats filled.
For loyal and longtime fans of Circus Vargas, there are lots of new things to look forward to this year. Host John Weiss added a folding dinner table to his already impressive list of things he can balance on his chin (which includes a bicycle, a double ladder, and a full sized shopping cart). Haley Kent’s contortion act, added this year, was a provocative display of strength and agility. The Argentine Folk Dance troupe whipped and whirred and twirled themselves and the audience into a frenzy with drums, capes, a bull whip, and boleadoras. And then there was Victor Kim Tchepiakov, bringing his straps act to the ring for the first time this year. Strong and graceful, dynamic and powerful, he is a truly impressive inclusion.
In addition to these new acts and performers, the established members of the Circus Vargas family also stepped things up a notch this year, bringing new costumes, new dance numbers, new music, and new, death defying technology to the ring. Leo and Getti Garcia, along with their 9 year old son Maximus (Guinness World Record holder for youngest Globe Rider in the world) have created a new Globe that now opens at top and bottom, leaving the motorcycle rider parallel to the ground on a track that is fully exposed, instead of being contained in a more traditional closed Globe. Leo also thrills on the Wheel of Destiny, adding this year a traffic safety like production number performed in neon. The Kenyan acrobats, with their flexibility, superhuman strength, and lack of Arsonphobia (fear of fire), changed from a tribe-like production to pirates, which now includes a very sneaky and pliable Soraya Ortiz trying to make off with their booty.
Just when the audience starts to think things couldn’t get more thrilling, the Flying Tabares’ take to the air. The Tabares’ have scaled down to a single rig from the double rig they had introduced a couple of years ago (due to several of their members being contracted by Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia-Congratulations!). But the remaining flyers certainly do not disappoint. Katya, Luis, Michelle, Yasmine, Stoyan, and Josue (the catcher), truly fly through the air with the greatest of ease. From passing leap to full twisting double layout, the Flying Tabares continue to display the skill and grace that won them the Gold Clown in Monte Carlo in 2004.
And it’s no wonder that this troupe looks comfortable and at home here. The Flying Tabares’ first came to America from Argentina in the late ’80′s, when Clifford Vargas still ran the show. Tabares Entertainment went on to purchase Circus Vargas in 2005 and have created the thrill ride that you can see today, wrapped up neatly in the nostalgic setting of circus days gone by. Nelson & Katya Quiroga-Tabares (owners) have done stellar work, paying homage to the family inspired roots of circus, and pushing the boundaries with ever bigger and more exciting performances.
Circus Vargas is one of few animal free circuses performing today. They tour all throughout California nearly year round. You can see Circus Vargas featured currently in the feature film “Water for Elephants”, and in an episode of “Coming Home” on Lifetime. Or, keep an eye on their touring schedule on their website, and go see them live!
With tickets ranging from $15.00-$60.00, this is a 2 1/2 hour event that is not to be missed!
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