Monday, May 13, 2013

Join the Moscow Circus

What comes to mind when you hear the word "circus"? For me, my only immediate reaction is Dumbo.  Specifically the scene where his mother cradles him through a cage. So. SAD. Next up would probably be Water for Elephants. Though more accurately in my mind it would be "that awful depressing circus movie with the elephant that breaks loose and isn't actually about a circus at all." I had to look up the title. (Note: I can't handle movies where people get hit. Or elephants. It's my undoing.)

It was clearly time to make some new word associations, so Friday night I headed to the Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Bulvar. My first week in Moscow I actually stayed in a hostel that's in this neighborhood and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a cheetah being walked down the street on a leash. Unaware of our proximity to the circus I first thought, "What city have I moved to?!" This was followed by, "Only in Moscow." That was only the first of many occurrences that fall under that second label. A list may be forthcoming.

Photography wasn't allowed, so unfortunately there's not much to show for this event. But here are some of the new word associations.

1. Vegas.  I don't know why, but somewhere in my mind I had envisioned that the circus art had not evolved since the 1920's. I fully expected old school, traditional circus-ing. Although I frankly have no idea what that would entail. So the flashing lights and live, very contemporary band/sound tracks caught me a bit off guard. I got up to date quickly enough though.
 2. Children. There were SO many! This is definitely a family friendly activity if you're looking for an evening out with the little ones. In my life, I interact with approximately 7 children for 1 hour on Sundays as I serve as our church children's music director. Otherwise, the closest I come to kids is via Skype with my nieces and nephews. What I loved: the laughter and energy they brought to the experience. There is nothing like a child's laugh of pure joy.  Didn't so much love: the child next to me who had gas attacks throughout the first half of the show. I've mostly adjusted to the scents of Moscow, but this one I was totally unprepared for.
 3. Animal Photo Shoots. These unsuspecting children were nicely arranged for a photo and sitting calmly until the blonde lady on the left brought out the birds to place on their shoulders and legs. I had to watch the scene unfold...I knew it held great potential. The littlest one seated on the right was smiling away until a bird was placed directly on his lap. He was looking the other way and didn't even see it coming, so his start and the immediate tears that ensued were priceless. Immediate removal of the bird brought the tears to a stop. Maybe I especially enjoyed this scene having grown up in a large family and  experienced the chaos that a family portrait can bring. Add animals to the mix?! You're asking for a new circus of sorts. (I was apparently the weird creepy lady taking pictures of other people's kids at the circus. The sheer number of them really just caught me by surprise!)
4. Elephants. Most of this circus is made up of human acts, with the occasional animal addition (apparently even Moscow has gotten up to speed on the appropriateness of this). There were some highly entertaining birds, a really random horse/dog show, and an elephant act to top things off. The elephants were brilliant and it was a long-ish act so it stuck with me. But I couldn't help but think, "Are they happy??" I actually don't even like animals so I caught even myself off guard with this one. But I couldn't help but think about my trip to Kenya and the sheer beauty of seeing elephants in their natural habitat. While these highly-trained elephants were impressive, they were missing the majesty that left me so awestruck on the Serengeti. 

I'm not a circus girl, I think I can safely say. But did I have an enjoyable evening? Yes. Overall it was a highly entertaining show, with lots of laughter and some impressive acts. The strength and flexibility of the people involved helped me jump back on the yoga train. Though I have no intention of EVER trapeze-ing it through the air. Let that be clear. I'd say this is a must-visit with children and a fun optional variant if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive way to pass a light-hearted evening.

Now for the real fun...your "circus" word associations. Go!


  1. That scene in Dumbo broke my heart too, I can't even think about it without getting sad (yes, I'm sad now).

    Circus word associations: peanuts, clowns (I hate clowns), cotton candy, elephants, trapeze...

  2. I couldn't help laughing when I read that part about the kid sitting next to you, followed by the family portrait with animals.:) I love your writing, as always.

    Trapeze, elephants and the Circus Charlie game on the computer more than two decades ago.

  3. I loved the Moscow Circus! My favorite was all the animals they had outside, all I could think was "that can't be safe"

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