On the Ringling Midway, 1898

On the Ringling Midway, 1898
and on their way to guilt-free amusement. They did not enter the big top with "issues."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quad God Miguel Remains Alone in His Greatness; Other Would-Bes Fly Short; Latest Candidate Ivo Silva, Jr., Has 5, Vows to Soar for More ...

29 years ago today in Tucson, Arizona at 8:44 PM -- Miguel Vazquez accomplished his first quadruple somersault in performance!

Miguel Vazquez returns to flight, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2010, assisted by David Vazquez. Photo from "The Last Great Flyer," courtesy of Philip Weyland.

They and we waited and wondered, could another trap star achieve those near-impossible four revolutions en route from fly bar to catcher's hands? Seems not to have happened. This was to have been the season of Ivo Silva, Jr. of the Flying Caceres. He flew for the Big Show, landing the quad during the season-opening engagement in Florida land, landing another four across the season, but mostly flirted with an elusive dream. I saw him give it a try when Ringling-Barnum hit Oakland last summer. He did not fly impressively close to hitting the intended target, a firm pair of waiting hands, which left me with a distinct impression of an artist likely chasing an impossible dream. Fate can be cruel. Or maybe it's a matter of "luck," when it strikes, being just as cruel, fooling the recipient into a hopeless addiction, like a slot machine Johnny down to his last penny.

It's not all bleak. Trapeze is being reinvented in China and other lands. Even the Caceres, to their credit, delivered a terrifically rich and varied routine, as I recall. Ivo, who did not enjoy the emotional support and continuity of a family, as do most other great flyers, is Ringling history. He has left the troupe to appear with Cirque du Soleil at Orlando, and he has not given up on his quad quest. Read his comments left here, in his own words!

Phil Weyland, at work on his documentary, The Last Great Flyer, about legendary quad god Miguel Vazquez, need not fret his title being trumped and bumped by the Next Great Flyer, wherever he/she may be.

Maybe it's a matter of context. Aerial art, I fearfully assume, has lost much of its luster here in the U.S. as Americans in general seem to prefer glancing away from hazardous airborne acrobatics. Lots of reasons: mechanics strangling the lifeblood out of daredevilry; a new class of anti-daring circus trick snob; the rise of the sensual silks lending welcome complexity and elevated sparkle to the new school of circus ballet -- nothing potentially messy, please! (We won't discuss how hazardous the bed sheets, too, can be.)

The quad is a "trick" just like the triple. And even three somersaults seem a less sure thing than they were 20 years ago. As often as not, they are dramatically announced, giving the circus who touts them the muscle it may not possess. Which is why, I suppose, rare it is these days to witness a flyer, having failed the first attempt, going for a second. I remember when they ALWAYS went back.

On Circus Vargas, across four visits in recent years, I vaguely recall watching the act it links, in rimgmaster verbiage, to Monte Carlo gold turning a triple just once; every other time, they did not even try to, nor did they try much else. But, oh, can they posture!

Meanwhile, the Weyland interviews continue apace, with more film shoots set for Vegas. Phil estimates a wrap up around this time next year. I'm hoping he can turn his Big Theme into TV documentary gold; and maybe, then, he'll turn his lenses onto other aspects of Spangleland. We got the depressing PBS take on Big Apple Circus realities; we got Arsenic for Elephants. Let's hope here comes something better.

7.10.11

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

excellent subject and film maker. do not miss this!

Anonymous said...

The big problem is the people who is not from the circus dosen't know how hard it is to do it. This lillte guy already cacht 5 times and this is already a amazing thing. A lot of flyers tried the hole life and never cachet. So let's congratulate him. And he still young I really think Ivo Silva Jr. It's gonna do more. He really have potential......

Showbiz David said...

good comment. another problem may be that Ivo is not flying in his own family(??), if I understand it right. he was just booked into the act, so he may lack the stronger support of a family.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!!! I'm Ivo silva Jr.
And you made are very good comment, it's really hard work with somebody who is not from your family. I'm really tried do it my best, but do it a lot of shows and doing triple and quad it's kind of hard. And i really don't have anybody from my family who is flying trapeze so im not gonna have somebody working with me. But i'm gonna still tried do it always my best.
And thanks!!!!

Showbiz David said...

Hi, Silva. you have great attitude and i respect you. makes me think that the catcher may be as important as the flyer. sorry you are on your own, and i hope you can find the right person/people to help you keep your wonderful dream alive! you are reaching for highest achievement in circus world ... you deserve better headline on this post ...

Wade G. Burck said...

Dave,
Read my past comments on the great Juan and Miguel Vasquez. I have always given deserved equal credit to both of them. Watching it for two years straight, it still amazes me to this day that Miguel, not having the "prototype" flyer's build was able to be so successfully consistent with the feat. There were many times when the skill of Juan pulled it out of the sky for him, after almost being slammed out of the catcher's bar.
I don't know if the "family angle" is a valid argument to having an advantage, though?

Wade Burck

Showbiz David said...

Wade, your argument strikes me as perfectly valid, and you were a first-hand witness to a long-running circus miracle. It confirms a feeling I have developed that Ivo may be flying at a distinct disadvantage, and I must say I feel for the guy. He obviously burns with ambition. Maybe it's not the family angle so much as it is the catcher, not just the catcher's skill, but the critical emotional-psychological connection between the two. And as they say, 'blood is thicker than water.'

Anonymous said...

I had the privilage to see Miguel Vazquez fly in Ringling for 5 years. I was astonished at there consistancy on the quadruple even in the early morning shows which is difficult. Not only have I seen him do the quad but also in the same act a triple twisting double, full twisting triple and may I add a two and a half pirouette back to the bar. To my knowlege he is the only man ever to accomplish such feats. Regarding Ivo, you have to give him credit for trying. For those who are not educated in the art of flying trapeze let me say that the trapeze rigging where Ivo was flying is a near exact replica of the trapeze rigg in La Nouba. Having said that, it is not a traditional flying trapeze rigging, let me explain the difference. The pedastol is quite higher than your normal pedastol and the catch bar is significantly lower, about 3 to 4 feet making flying in general much easier. Seeing the drastic differences you have to understand that unless he catches the quad on a traditional flying trapeze rigging and has a consistant rate on the quad, he and EVERYBODY else can never be compared to Miguel Vazquez. Who always and forever will stand alone in his greatness!

Wade G. Burck said...

Anonymous,
Touche'. "Unless he catches the quad on a traditional flying trapeze rigging and has a consistant rate on the quad, he and EVERYBODY else can never be compared to Miguel Vazquez," say's it all. Unless you have quarterbacked 4 Superbowl teams you are neither Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw. They are the two that intangible are referenced in contemplating "The Greatest," not Tom Brady with 3 wins or Jim Kelly with 4 attempts.

Wade Burck

Anonymous said...

Hi. Interesting points of view... MR. Vazquez does stand alone and it's only the "fans" that make the comparison. As far as measurements go, these are much more extreme then a traditional rigg. In some ways theyre easier and in some ways they're HARDER. You would have to experience them to know. Being a flyer/ex flyer is not enough, you have to try, then talk. The fly cables are extremely short, therefore making your launches off the bar more difficult. On top of that because the cables are short you have incredible instability in the back end of your swing and preventing you from breaking on time. A lot of people say that because the catcher is lower that it's easier, not true. Because he is low he must pump more swing and that cancels out the advantage . The catcher can't just sit with no swing and catch anything that is thrown to him with ease! It's like catching a ton of bricks!! ...and then there's the obvious . If it's so much easier why in 14 yrs of LA NOUBA hasn't there been a Quad? Why isn't Ivo catching all of them?!! A trick is a trick, no matter what. Don't be fooled by people who talk measurements.
- George Cáceres