Tuesday, February 09, 2010
The Morning Midway: Monte Carlo Honors Big Top Stars ...
How fair are their judges? I always wondered how fair a panel of circus owners could be, and yet, come to think about it, how fair would any panel — performers, “critics,” or seasoned patrons — be? The Monte Carlo winners, such as I’ve followed them, rarely with consistent attention, have usually struck me as worthy.
Sure, there is always human wiggle room for honest debate: Should Artist A have been awarded the Silver instead of the Gold, or vice versa? Overall, I’m not aware of glaring surprises that raise suspicions of advance fixes or payoffs. But then again, as I’ve said, I do not regularly follow this most prestigious of world circus competitions, nor do I see anywhere near all of the competing acts that appear to have any of my own opinions. Here are this years winners at the 34th Festival International du Cirque:
Gold Clown: Martin Lacey, Jr., big cats, from ENGLAND
Gold Clown: The Shangdon risley troupe from CHINA
Silver Clown: The Flying Michaels from BRAZIL
Silver Clown: Alegria Russian bars with Cirque du Soleil, from CANADA
Silver Clown: Eshimbekov Cossack riders from KURKISTAN
Silver Clown: Petra and Roland Duss, pressenting sea lions, from SWITZERLAND
Bronze Award: Duo Garcia, aerial rocket, from SPAIN
Bronze Award: The Rossyanns, clowns from FRANCE and ITALY
Bronze Award: Sonny Frankello, elephants, from GERMANY
Bronze Award: The Blue Sky Girls, contortionist from CHINA
Why the countries in caps? Always of great interest to me are the points of origin. Being an American, I learned at an early age to respect the term "First Time in America." No surprise that China is stepping up to the podium; rather surprised not to see any Russians in the finals. The United States? We are still what we have always been, at our best (okay, now and then), innovators unbound by fixed traditions in casting world-class circus acts into new performance formats -- some ground breaking -- but rarely up to par in producing them from the ground up.
Most of all, I am heartened that H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco is dedicating so much passion and intelligent respect to circus art by continuing the legacy established by her late father. After all, is there any form of entertainment more universally shared across all languages and cultures than the magic we together witness in that wondrous circle of miraculous human achievement?
Thanks to Raffaele DeRitis and Don Covington for sending out the word.
Congratulations, Monte Carlo Champions!