Thursday, June 6, 2013
A vestige of ancient Rome will be in Walla Walla on Tuesday — in the form of The Jordan World Circus.
There will be feats with tigers, elephants, horses and other animals, as well as aerialists and acrobats — acts reminiscent of the first circuses held in Rome’s ancient Circus Maximus, though not with its audience capacity, said to be around 250,000 people.
No, there won’t be staged battles or gladiators dueling to the death. But, yes, there will be clowns.
Esteban Fassio, spokesman for the show, said Jordan is one of the few remaining three-ring circuses touring the United States. It will put on two shows at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, starting at 4:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.
The circus will come to town in four semi-trucks; one for the elephants; one for the tigers and two for all the equipment, Fassio said.
With its first show in 1988, the Jordan circus — owned by Jody Jordan of Las Vegas — travels with a caravan of performers, crew and concession operators.
“For Walla Walla we have an estimate of 30 (circus people),” Fassio said, “Other shows in big cities can go up to 100 or more.”
Jordan’s performers, many of them accomplished international circus stars, are booked through a circus agent, Fassio said. Potential performers submit promotional material and videos showing what they do.
To keep things fresh, he added, “Every year we send (Jordan’s agent) a program request; he sends us all the acts available and we choose what we need for our show.”
Circuses in the United States have been going on in one form or another since late colonial days, providing family entertainment.
In 1825, the first tented circus was presented by producer J. Purdy Brown, according to a history on Jordan’s website.
Brown realized the potential of playing every day and the ease of moving the show the tent provided. By 1829, trained exotic animals began appearing in the performances.
Around the turn of the 19th century there were more than 100 circuses operating, according to Jordan. Today there are 30 to 40, competing with many more options for family entertainment, such as television, movies and the Internet.
Jordan has had to adapt to changing times as well, and no longer performs under the “big top.”
“Before was very easy to set the circus in a tent, was easy to get the permits and locations,” Fassio said. “Today with the new regulations, we had to change the circus tent for buildings and fairgrounds.”
But, he says, nothing beats the thrill of watching exotic animals and skilled, high-flying performers exhibit their derring-do live.
Tom Skeen can be reached at 509-526-8320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.