Nik Wallenda’s Walk Across Niagara Falls Benefits Whole of Circus Biz

Wallenda surrounded by the mist of Niagara Falls, midway through his journey

Wallenda surrounded by the mist of Niagara Falls, midway through his journey

To date, I still haven’t been able to find a single soul that is unaware of the record-breaking high wire walk across Niagara Falls by Nik Wallenda two weeks ago. (Granted, I may hang around slightly biased circles, but still…) For me, this felt like my generation’s moon landing. It seemed that children of all ages tuned in and watched the heavily-advertised stunt go down in the record books, white-knuckled and balancing on the edge of their seats. No one was immune to the captivating allure of this death-defying stunt; it was epic.

In the wake of Wallenda’s momentous accomplishment and the ensuing media frenzy, it appears that the circus industry as a whole is benefiting. According to My Suncoast,

As Wallenda’s walk created a surge of interest in circus and circus arts across the world, it focused the spotlight on Sarasota as Nik’s hometown and the vocal point of circus history. Folks in the circus industry expect it to pay off big time.

The circus is an important part of our culture and a big business here in on the Suncoast.

Sailor Circus, which is now a part of Circus Sarasota, opened its summer camp on Monday to a packed house. This day camp in circus arts for kids 6 to 15 is a sellout attracting kids from all over the country, and Wallenda’s walk is a part of the draw.

“Nik being tenacious to do the walk and getting the permits and the engineering and getting the cable across it…to say everything is possible and let us show you what as men and as people we can actually achieve,” says Circus Sarasota Founder/CEO Pedro Reis.

This renewed interest in circus that had lost some of its glitter in recent years is expected to pay off big time in Sarasota. For one thing, it increased ticket sales at Circus Sarasota’s Summer Show that opens in the historic Asolo Theater in the Ringling Museum on Tuesday. “The Nik Wallenda walk really, really gave us a lot of awareness.”

It’s also expected to bring an increase in interest and an increase in paying customers at the Circus Museum at the Ringling Museum.

To read the rest of this article, click here, and hats off yo you Nik! Everyone is the circus biz owes you a well-deserved “Thanks.”

Interview with Kerry Tice, Circus Performer & Aerial Yoga Instructor

Circus arts have been making their way into the contemporary fitness scene and Kerry Tice is a circus performer and yoga instructor who specializes in aerial or flying yoga. Kerry hails from one of the great circus cities of the US, Sarasota, FL, and now resides there teaching his many physical arts. Today, we’ll get to hear a little bit about his past, his experiences with aerial yoga and some advice for others wanting to get involved in this sport:

Kerry Tice on his aerial yoga hammock

Q. How did you get involved in circus arts?

A. I first fell in love with the circus as a freshman in high school in the Sarasota Sailor Circus program. I signed up for circus class to fulfill my PE requirement, and little did I know that I had signed up for a lifetime career in and around the circus.

I became a catcher and flying trapeze instructor for Trapeze School New York – Beantown. I then owned and operated my own trapeze school (Circusoul of Tulsa) and was a director of the circus camp at Camp Lohikan. I’m currently performing and producing with our troup of performers, Circusoul Productions.

Kerry Tice on his aerial yoga hammock

Q. When did you first get involved with aerial yoga hammocks?

A. I first got involved with aerial yoga hammocks in the Spring of 2011, while recooperating from a back injury. Through my exploration of aerial hammocks, aerial yoga and it’s transformational ability, I fell in love. I had been studying and teaching yoga over the last several years and found that this new form of aerial yoga could incorporate both my aerial and yoga background! I was totally hooked and could not wait to share this gift with everyone I met!

Kerry Tice on his aerial yoga hammock

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the equipment involved in aerial yoga?

A. The flying yoga hammock is really unique, as it uses minimal hardware, is very versatile and can even be used to lounge in. It combines nylon webbing that allows you to adjust the height of your hammock. The flying yoga hammock also includes a set of handles that can be used to do extra yoga moves, and it works great for aerial fitness and aerial dance. The entire yoga hammock is made from fabric, so it’s more comfortable and feels more secure, and there is a whole slew of things (cocooning and flying savasana to name a couple) that you can do in this hammock that other hammocks might fall short in delivering.  Check out some of the things you can do here: Flying Yoga Pictures.

This is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I have ever worked on. You can do an entire yoga sequence suspended from the air; it can be used for aerial dance, aerial fitness, and is great for the aerial/floor hybrid classes I have been enjoying.

The cost on the flying yoga hammock is $149. The set includes the yoga hammock, two carabiners and webbing to make the rig adjustable. You can purchase at Yoga Hammock.

I have the good fortune of attending some of Kerry’s classes and a highly recommend the class and his rigs to anyone interested in pursuing flying yoga. And now, here’s a few clips of Kerry having fun, aerial yoga-style:


Trivia from the Latest Addition to the Ringling Circus Museum


Sarasota, Florida has been home to the Ringling Circus Museum since 1948 and at the time, it was the only museum of its kind to take on the challenge of documenting (and celebrating) the legacy of the American circus. Once it was established, the museum grew quickly due to the exceptional number of circus performers in the area, many of whom contributed to the collections.

Over the decades, this important resource did not grow as quickly or gloriously as I think it deserved to. Last year, however, the Ringling Circus Museum received a significant upgrade; in September, 2011, a sizable expansion to the Tibbals Learning Center opened on the Ringling grounds.

This new addition is truly a cohesive, educational and beautifully designed space, with engaging and interactive elements in every corner. It is also chock-full of fun trivia regarding the Ringling-era circus. Did you know that high wire performers use to perform on hemp rope before commercially made cable became readily available? Or that the steam calliope at the tail end of the street parade typically played the Pied Piper to lead the masses to the circus tent?

If these factoids make you as unexplainably excitable as they do me, I highly recommend making a trip to see the new and improved museum. It’s clear that a pretty penny was invested into this institution and there’s no better way to show your appreciation is to support it. To read more about the history of this museum, click here.

Vintage Circus Posters On Display

Vintage Circus PosterTomorrow is the final day of the Ringling Museum‘s temporary exhibition, The Amazing American Circus Poster: The Strobridge Lithographing Company. This collection features,

80 brilliantly colored, boldly bombastic posters advertising the feature attractions from all corners of the globe and peerless performers of the big top.  The Cincinnati-based Strobridge Lithographing Company was one of the country’s leading printers for the circuses. Their posters were unrivaled in their artistry and provide us with a detailed portrait of the American circus in its Golden Age, when it was unrivaled as the premiere entertainment institution in the country. (Ringling)

In addition to showcasing magnificent poster art, this particular exhibit is accompanied by an iPod tour that is a little different than your usual audio guide. The posters are organized by theme, and the iPod provides music appropriate for those particular themes. When you are in the section highlighting clowns, you can gaze upon the posters while listening to a jovial, upbeat traditional circus song that was popular for clown acts; when you next reach the portion focusing on life-threatening stunts, such as aerial acts, you can study the posters while listening to classic dizzying and suspenseful circus tunes. It adds a very immersive element to this already impressive experience.
The Amazing American Circus Poster: The Strobridge Lithographing CompanyIf you didn’t get the chance to visit the museum while this exhibit was up, don’t worry! The Cincinnati Art Museum has published this collection into a full-color book, complete with a satisfying amount of trivia and backstory to the artwork. While the museum collection only displayed 80 posters, many more are featured in this book. You can buy it here on Amazon

A Humble Note of Gratitude From Under The Big Top

Cirque des Voix

In a few short hours, the opening show of Circus Sarasota‘s Cirque des Voix will commence and yours truly will be kicking off the festivities in a group fire act backed by the nationally renowned Key Chorale. Also on the bill are The Flying Wallendas, Dolly Jacobs and Annaliese Nock, daughter of Bello Nock. That’s a whole lot of circus legacy packed into one show and it’s an honor to perform alongside such names, under the big top, in my hometown.

Today, before lacing up the costume and slathering on the makeup, I felt the need to say thank you. I never imagined I’d someday perform under a tented show, especially one of this magnitude, and I absolutely would not be here if it weren’t for the encouragement and support from friends, family and HeyRube readers like you. On an uncharacteristically sappy note, I hope this encourages a few of you out there to pursue your wildest dreams, especially the far-fetched ones. I think today is proof that anything is attainable, if you want it badly enough. Blah, blah, blah… you’re all the best.

Happy Friday the 13th and I’ll see you on the otherside!


A circus performer ;)

PS. And now, for a little local news coverage: