Saturday, May 30, 2009
World’s Greatest Flies Again ... Russian Horse Show Struggling in Texas ... S.F Tiger Taunters Win Big Bucks ... Symphony and Circus Share Stages ...
Roustabouts, hold your props! Vendors, cease all vending! Maestro Evans, softly into “Wedding of the Winds,” if you please! Ringmaster Ronk, your lines ...
“Now ladies and gentlemen, it is with profound pride and respect that we present, high over center ring, the return of the greatest flyer who ever lived — Miguel Vazquez!”
When I first viewed the photo above, that's how I felt. What a fantastic event the return of this big top icon would be. All that Miguel Vazquez, still evidently fit, would have to do is turn a double, even a laid back tipple. The announcement of his name and unmatched legacy alone would stir the crowds. After all, Americans still swoon to the spectacle of trapeze. The good news is that the quad king, who thrilled audiences through the 1980s and then vanished from view like a shooting star lost in space, is back, back here on Planet Earth, back being interviewed by and flying for Hollywood actor Philip Weyland.
Weyland is independently at work on a documentary about Vazquez's life, assisted by a group of high ender Hollywood pros, some with Emmys to their names: documentary producer and director Jake Gorst, and composers Richie Saccente and S. Cosmo Mallardi. "I've chosen this 'independent' route to give myself the freedom to make the film I want without any outside interference," explains Weyland.
Just getting the elusive Vazquez to talk should earn Weyland some sort of a prize. He did not know the flyer when he decided to undertake the project. "We never actually spoke until I arrived in Las Vegas and met him in person."
In March, Miguel flew for the first time in five years, with his brother Juan catching. "What a thrill it was," says Weyland, who witnessed the reunion in the air. "Miguel is in shape and is still one exciting and graceful athlete."
Another Weyland coup, in my awed opinion, I get goosebumps just gazing at the photo, to your left: yes, you are looking at two legends seated next to each other: Tito Gaona and Miguel Vazquez, along with Miguel's son, David. The road ahead for Weyland will be, I suppose, rough. When will the big tops ever get a decent documentary? Something more than another lame Celebrity Circus. Miguel, welcome back!
Tiger Tiger, Verdict Bad: The Dhaliwal brothers, who sued the San Francisco Zoo for injuries suffered when a tiger escaped its compound and attacked them, also killing one of their friends, have settled out of court to the tune of $900.000. Local radio talk show hosts push the taunting angle, sure the brothers were responsible for provoking Tatiana to jump a wall lower than national zoo standards and have at them. They downplay the same tiger attacking its keeper a year or so before. And despite conceding that the zoo itself was negligent, and without any evidence found that the brothers actually provoked the tiger's escape, Bay Area residents tend to view the brothers, who have had run-ins with the law, as thugs, Tatiana as the victim. A twisted media nightmare is over. Let's see, didn't a tiger in some other zoo just kill a keeper? Wonder if that keeper was a thug?
Another Troubled Horse Show: From Houston, where it first played in the U.S., to Dallas goes the Russian-based Artania horse and acrobatic show. Artistic director Mairbrek Kantemirov is banking on a lush U.S. tour, which I sorta kind of don’t see exactly happening. These horse show things are difficult sells. Two in recent years from Montreal came on with a bang, and faded out soon ... Show plays under white tents, with a cast of 50 performers and 19 horses. ... Turnout in Houston was “low.” Surprised, anybody? Artania then took on a new marketing firm, trying to recoup losses so far and turn the books from red to black. A Peterson peanut bailout, per chance? ... Tents go up on a street replete with bail bondsmen, liquor stores, and the county jail ...
Symphony and Sawdust: Concert orchestras are starting to send tumblers and aerialists aloft while Mahler and Ravel play on. Cirque du la Symphonie is the brainchild of one Bill Allen, who was inspired one day watching a Bolshoi circus performer warming up to a recording of Tzchaikovsky. In 2006, Allen started booking circus artists into concert halls. All over the country they have performed. En route to Modesto, California are six ring artists who will “fly across the stage, dance, juggle, tumble and perform feats of strength.” The musicians will share the same stage rather than retreat to the pit. “The orchestra plays harder when we’re out there doing our thing,” says Allen. Audiences will hear a mix of classical and modern selections, from Dvorak's “Carnival Overture” to music from Harry Potter.
[photos by Philip Weyland]