Friday, August 03, 2012

About the 'M" Word ... This from Juliana Martinez

The Nine Ward-Bell Flyers at Polack Bros Circus, circa 1954

This came in as a comment to an older post, "What Ever Became of the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. I believe it bears front ring attention:

From Juliana Marinez:

"As someone who is related to nearly all of the original Ward-Bell flyers, I would first like to say that my grandmother, Mayme Ward always told me that my grandfather, Eddie Ward, invented the mechanic. If I had told her that one day it would become part of the act, she would be appalled. Does anyone besides me remember the term "aerial ballet"? You wouldn't dance a ballet in your practice garb, it would detract from the elegance and symmetry. My Grandparents, and parents had pride and dignity. They were flyers, but most importantly, they were trapeze "artists", and were proud of their daring, and also of doing it with style. If I had a lot of money, I would throw away all the strobes and laser lights and produce an old-fashioned circus with the kind of aerial acts I remember. If you don't think a sway poll can still scare the pants off of people, you are wrong, it still scares me! Real acts with real risk and pride in artistry, wardrobe, and details. Put that together, and you might actually have a real circus. I just don't know if it could be done."

Thank you, Juliana. I have my doubts, too. I believe that nothing more vividly symbolizes the circus going gutless and risking the loss of its reality-based soul than the rise of mechanics in performance. They render the act impotent, no matter how interesting it may be. Ironically, select members of the U.S. circus community, have come forward to defend their use. The most ridiculous of all imagery is a so-called "high wire" act rigged to lifelines. Vertically Pointless. Why so high? Sterile. At best, "interesting," hardly the word to stir a trip back to the big top. Nik Wallenda crossing Niagra falls, tethered every step of the way to the cable. I need say nothing more.

Increasingly, true risk takers will surface in other venues, for there will always be a crowd, and a circus show will by default look increasingly languid, passe, academic -- excusing its prior courage, stamina, skill, and, yes art, under the guise of "new circus" or theatre-circus or circus-ballet.

Rich and rousing are my memories of the great Nine Ward-Bell Flyers when they came to Santa Rosa in my boyhood with Polack Bros.Circus!

1 comment:

Juliana Martinez said...

Thanks for quoting me! Glad there are 2 of us who remember!