GOSHEN — America’s first travelling water circus is a sight to see, its performers say.
“It’s a circus, but it’s a different kind of circus, “ Anita Zeman, of the Zeman Duo, said.
Cirque Italia carries with it a 35,000-gallon tank of water, that’s propped under the stage.
Depending on the act, the dual stage can lower to allow performers to be encircled in water, or raise for acts that are unsafe to be so close to liquid. When it moves, a waterfall is created.
“It’s a whole new experience, and I’m sure people will really love it,” Zeman said.
The European-style circus, aeriet net performer Corissa Fusco says it’s like a Las Vegas show, but traveling.
“We’re trying to bring those big city shows to less populated areas. We want to give everybody a chance to see what we have here,” she said.
A former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performer, Fusco added that a benefit to Cirque Italia’s show is the smaller audience.
“I’m a face painter too, so if at the beginning of the show I’ve painted some little kids’ face a few rows back, I can actually see them. It’s really special and different that I can make those connections with the audience while I’m performing.”
In Warsaw last week, with just 1,400 seats each night under their tent, they nearly sold out.
“When I first saw this a few years ago I loved the show,” Zeman said.
She and her husband Karchy perform BMX stunts, roller skate and do quick change acts together.
A third generation circus performer, Zeman’s parents and grandparents were circus performers as well.
“My mom was a teacher and she fell in love, got married and joined the circus,” Zeman said.
Her husband’s father was circus performer too. They met and married in Dublin, Ireland.
“Since then we have been together and we work on the acts we can work together,” she said. They celebrate 25 years of marriage and circus life as a duo this year. They’ve tried to leave circus life for a more mundane normal life, but couldn’t.
“We stopped for two years in Las Vegas,” she said. “My son wanted to be an archeologist, he wanted to be a chef but now he wants to be a firefighter. I fully support him in that and whatever he wants to do, and my daughter too. She wants to be a performer and a vet.”
Her kids, formerly homeschooled, joined public schools where they excelled, but it was a short life stop.
“My husband still did the circus, he said, I belong to the circus, I need to move on.’ We are a family, though, so we took the whole gang with us.”
Half Brazilian, half Argentinian, raised in Italy, with a husband from Hungary, Zeman has learned to love meeting new people, learning new cultures and languages.
“I’ve been all over the world so I get to pick up a lot of languages and it’s awesome,” she said. “I’ve done this all my life so for me traveling and seeing new places and meeting new people, I love it. We go around, I have my kids with me, I have a 16 year old and a 6 year old. They love the circus life. I have my pets. We are a family.”
Cirque Italia offers them an even bigger family as well.
“We’re a little town that travels all together,” she said. “We always change neighbors because we are a traveling circus, and we travel a lot so sometimes we have different neighbors.”
Fusco, a first generation performer, agreed.
“Really all of the performers here are like family,” she said. “We have barbecues which are our dinner at least two to three times a week. We help each other out with the kids. If one needs a babysitter, they have like a million next door. It’s a really good community that we have.”
Fusco had been a gymnast from a young age. In her late teens she met her husband Max, a fifth-generation circus performer, and his sisters helped her learn to do gymnastics in the air.
“Being dizzy was one of the biggest things I had to get over because when you’re spinning around you get really dizzy,” she said. “Being an aerialist, it’s mostly strength and flexibility so I’m really glad I had that gymnastics background. Flexibility can be trained in adulthood but it’s much easier if you’re trained from a young age.”
Her husband Max and his twin Emiliano do a juggling act together.
“Juggling is really technical so it’s really useful to be able to know what each other are thinking,” she said. “They can predict each other’s movements. I’m not sure friends would have the same connection and I think that’s one of the things that made them very successful jugglers in there career.”
Tickets are selling fast, Fusco says, and ticket lines tend to get pretty long so pre-ordering is a good decision.
The circus offers a promotional deal of one free child per paying adult in levels two and three. Tickets range from $10 for a child in level three and $25 for an adult in level three furthest from the encircled stage, to $45 for a child in level one and $50 for an adult in level one nearest to the stage. Call or text 941-704-8572 for the promo code.
Inside the tent, there is face painting, souvenirs and snacks- but it’s cash only.
Cirque Italia will be at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds Thursday through Sunday.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.cirqueitalia.com/tickets, or by the phone number listed above.