Italian Water Circus brings European flair

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Performances at the Italian Water Circus when the show came through Abilene in 2019. The circus recently made stops in San Angelo and Abilene and will be in Amarillo this weekend.

The Italian Water Circus makes its rounds through Texas and other states every other year. The Water Circus was last here in 2019, when they performed shows to sold-out crowds. This round was much of the same, with sold out shows from Thursday thru Sunday.

Many people are just coming out of the enforced COVID-related hibernation and the circus is just the ticket many need as everyone works their way back to "normal." A circus that brings a beautiful European flair is a bonus. That is exactly what the Italian Water Circus does.

The circus has 20 performers, whose acts include everything from the Wheel of Death, to the Hair Hang, to the Chinese Pole. Jugglers and clowns keep everyone entertained between acts. The intriguing aspect of the Italian Water Circus is that the entire show is an ever-evolving story. At the beginning of the show, an Italian clown is fishing and catches a treasure map. The performances that follow afterward are all part of the story as the clown searches for pirate gold. His search for gold is showcased between each performance, keeping the audience involved and entertained.

Performances at the Italian Water Circus when the show came through Abilene in 2019. The circus recently made stops in San Angelo and Abilene and will be in Amarillo this weekend.

Acrobats Elena Stefanova and Hector "Polo" Pazaran represent the worldliness that the circus brings. Rosenthal is from Bulgaria and Pazaran is from Mexico. The show also has performers from Italy, Brazil and Ecuador as well as from several European countries and several South American countries.

Hector "Polo" Pazaran and Elena Stefanova are performers in the Italian Water Circus. The circus recently made stops in San Angelo and Abilene. This weekend it will be in Amarillo, followed by Grand Prairie.

Getting into the circus is no easy task, as Stefanova explains, "I tried out with 125 other girls for one spot in the circus in America." Prior to joining the circus, Stefanova was a professional gymnast.

Pazaran comes from a family of circus performers, "I started in the circus as a clown when I was a child. My father was a trapeze artist, high wire walker and did the teeter-board. The teeter-board should be familiar to anyone who has watched comedy classics or other shows. One man stands on one end of a teeter board while another person jumps on the other end. In the circus, it isn't a comedy gag. The acrobats will launch into the air and land on the shoulders of other acrobats or objects.

The circus life is a busy life. Everyone is everything in the circus world. The performers are in constant motion, on and off the stage. They help set up the tents, unload the trucks, clean and sanitize the tents between shows and sell souvenirs when not on stage. As Pazaran says, all of the work is worth it, "We want the audience to have a good time, the entire time. We want them to enjoy the entire act."

Performances at the Italian Water Circus when the show came through Abilene in 2019. The circus recently made stops in San Angelo and Abilene and will be in Amarillo this weekend.

The show travels on Monday, usually arriving at their next destination that evening. Stefanova says that it takes at least 2 days to et everything set up. The work doesn't end there, "We spend our time fine tuning our acts leading up to that first show on Thursday." The show lasts approximately 2 hours. Stefanova says that the circus has approximately 50-60 employees. Each employee is a multitasker. Someone might help with set up during the day, perform during the show, and then work the ticket booth while others are performing.

Stefanova says that some new acts have been added since the show's last trip through in 2019, "This year there is sword fighting, the Chinese Pole and a bow-and-arrow show."

Pazaran, along with his wife, are the Chinese Pole acrobats. The pole is almost 30' tall. The acrobats perform incredibly detailed acts up and down the pole. In addition to the pole, the acrobats perform using each other. One part of the act that seems something beyond human ability is when the man uses one hand to support himself horizontally on the pole, his body fully extended. The other performer then sits on his legs and uses them as the implement for various acrobatic stunts. The entire time the performer is using Pazaran's legs as their base, he continues to hold himself fully horizontal with only one hand. The act is mesmerizing, completely drawing the full attention of everyone in the tent. It's impossible to watch the performance without a sense of awe.

The Chinese Pole act is a perfect example of what Pazaran says that the circus requires, "To join the circus, you have to be prepared physically and mentally. You can't perform without being focused. We all depend on each other. You have to trust your partner and they have to trust you."

in the Italian Water Circus, the acts are performed with a curtain of water falling all around the ring, adding a new dimension to the circus.

While Pazaran and his act are new, Stefanova has been here before. She performs acrobatic stunts with "the silks." This year she also does the "hair hang." The act is just as it says, a performer hanging by her hair. The stunts are mind-numbing, using no tricks or hidden devices to hold the acrobat.

Pazaran enjoys the travel and performing, "We get to travel to places where people may not always have a chance to see this type of circus. The circus is like a family."

One major difference between this circus and any other circus is that the aerial maneuvers are performed with the steady stream of a water curtain. While the performers may not be getting rained on, the water does get onto their various apparatuses, adding a new dimension to the performances. Pazaran points out that it is something exciting, "The water and the music add to the show. We want people to enjoy the show and forget about whatever is going on in the world outside of the tent." In addition, Stefanova says that the Italian style circus offers a closeness not found in traditional American circuses, "We are close to the audience. We enjoy that aspect of it. The audience can see us and we can see them enjoying the acts."

Performances at the Italian Water Circus when the show came through Abilene in 2019. The circus recently made stops in San Angelo and Abilene and will be in Amarillo this weekend.

Stefanova says that with the ever-present COVID-related concerns, the entire area is sanitized after each performance, "We sanitize before, during and after every show." Pazaran says that nothing is left to chance, either with the acts or sanitizing, "We take all precautions. As soon as people leave, we start getting ready for the next show. That starts with sanitizing everything."

The show made stops in San Angelo and Abilene. They're headed to Amarillo to perform April 8-11, then they'll head to Grand Praire for April 15-18. They'll then travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana April 22-25. You can find their schedule at https://cirqueitalia.com/water-circus-silver.