FEATURE: A taste of the high life as circus comes to town

By John Turner in Entertainment

Apparently people really do run away to join the circus, while others train formally as gymnasts or acrobats at circus school and apply for jobs.

Some others, like 24-year-old Gina Morales, are born into families of circus performers and simply follow family tradition.

Ahead of the opening night, on Friday, I visited Gandey’s Circus along with Isle of Man Newspapers’ photographer Dave Kneale for an appointment with the discomfortingly-named Wheel of Death.

This is basically a large metal bar, perhaps 20 feet long or more, with an axle at the middle so it can rotate.

At each end is a fixed wheel - similar to a hamster’s wheel, which the performer can walk around inside (and outside, should he wish) as the whole structure rotates.

As we prepared for our experience, Gina told us: ’Our family has been involved in the circus for eight generations.

’Originally in Mexico but now we are here with Gandey’s.’

With her sister, Jacqueline, 23, she is part of Las Chicas Morales, performing in the ring with large rolling globes - as well as helping out with publicity.

The circus is back in the island, at Douglas Rugby Club’s ground on Peel Road, for the first time in a number of years.

And simply getting it here is a logistical challenge in itself, explained ringmaster Binky Beaumont, with the entire show packed into a total of nine pantechnicons.

’It takes six lorries to carry the big top, seating and flooring,’ he said.

’Then it’s a further three carrying all the other equipment, including 32 miles of cable.’

The current Gandey’s circus has been going for almost 100 years, taking shows all over the world.

Last year it performed in Hong Kong and it has been to the island a number of times.

Before arriving here, performances took place in Knutsford in Cheshire. After the Isle of Man they head north west to Manchester before going south to Jersey and Guernsey.

’We are on the road for most of the year,’ revealed Gina. ’But we do have a base in Essex where our mother has a family house.’

The circus line-up features 40 performers and 60 crew, supporting acts including Rocket Man Pablo Garcia from Germany, who performs along with his wife in the roof high above the 2,000 seater big top.

Duo Bella from Cuba will perform aerial ballet above the audience and Duo Siffolini, from Bulgaria, Nikolay and Ivan, will be performing gymnastic feats on the giant wheel of death.

There are also aerial acrobats from Kazakhstan, another acrobatic troupe from Morocco, pole gymnasts from the Caribbean, dancers with spectacularly choreographed routines, and circus clown Chico Rico.

As we visit, gymnasts, wearing figure-hugging tunics and overcoats, are preparing to limber up, performing cartwheels and handstands ahead of the first performance in the island.

Finally, we are briefed by Wheel of Death performers Nikolay and Ivan, who can walk around the wheel on their hands. For me, feet will suffice.

The standing area, which at around 18 inches wide is more than adequate at ground level suddenly seems very narrow when the wheel rotates and I’m hoisted vertically towards the roof of the big top - and kept there for the photos.

For photographer Dave it was perhaps more of a challenge as he had to take photographs from the top.

The reason for the lengthy disclaimer we each signed certainly became clear.

Dave and I may have to hone our skills a little more before running away to join the circus but even without our input, it promises to be a spectacular show.

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Sir Nigel Farage · 82 days ago · Report

Don't forget folks, the Manx Circus Big Top will be open at St Johns on 5th July - you can see all the best local clowns in fancy dress and silly hats!

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