Whenever her name drops down upon my mind, I see her streaming around a circus ring, sawdust flying even when it does not fly, canvas flapping under a warm dusty breeze, a band jamming emphatically on, the tent more full than empty of people, and I hear a bolero or a tango, right now, I don’t know why, I hear “Guenevere” from the musical Camelot. Once, around 1967, near the small Northern California town of Sonoma under a sparkling Carson & Barnes tent on a buoyantly happy evening (some of their shows were, in design or by default, cracking good affairs), there I likely caught sight of her figure atop a cantering horse, for her name is in the program I still have from that day, and years later I would soon take note whenever she appeared, and forever after at intervals she would circle the memory of my mind once more — a strong vibrant figure of grace and steel, passionately reproving her act.
I once saw her down in Del Rio Texas, 1974, and when she rode, I thrilled to the discovery that she was there, again, there as before, and as ever, dancing upon the back of a horse with rugged aristocratic stamina -- a living symbol of the big top’s visceral reality, and I saw her as a mythical figure in a perpetual loop, and so I preferred keeping her in a dream distance ... and she would weave in and out of my imagination ... through Norwalk, Ohio in 1978 ... to Ontario, California in 1984, always landing praise in my large book of brief raw show notes, words alluding to her indelible impact .... “superb equestrienne bareback ... great on horseback ...”
And in my mind, she still rides on, bracing a fast moving steed. Still fills a stained canvas tent of fading painted-on stars with the magic that once the circus possessed in spades — of animals circling the rings, daredevils commanding the air ... of tumblers scampering up long ramps and twirling off at the ends into somersaults and flips over elephants, one after the other after the other. Long before a dissenting class arrived to question and probe, complain and protest and dumb down the show.
She still rides a circular path of honor in my brain ...
Luciana Loyal – 1949-2012