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Circus Chimera: No animals, just high-energy fun

March 12, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The circus is coming to town, but the lions, tigers and bears of traveling big tops of the past won't be.

Circus Chimera, which will perform in Calexico tonight and Tuesday, bills itself as the "circus of the future."

"We've got state-of-the-art sound, state-of-the-art lighting. It's not just because we don't feature animal acts that we are the circus of the future," said circus vice president Michael Gorman.

"It's more like going to a theater because we have individual seating and everything is a real class act," Gorman said.

The circus will start at 7:30 tonight and 4:30 and 7:30 Tuesday at the Las Palmas Swap Meet site near the corner of Ollie Avenue and Highway 98.


It is sponsored by the Calexico Police Activities League.

Tickets are available by calling 1 (888) ONE-RING or by visiting the box office.

Circus Chimera will showcase acrobats, Robert Bruce as "Archie the Hobo" and the "Flying Rodogels," a trapeze act.

Recent sensitivity to the condition of circus performing animals and the popularity of Cirque Du Soleil has carried the Oklahoma-based Circus Chimera across the country, including shows in Oakland and Los Angeles.

"There are some circuses that shouldn't be allowed to have animals but there are others that treat them very well," said Circus Chimera founder James Judkins.

"I didn't think we had the staff to treat them properly and we couldn't find any animal acts that fit in with our high-energy acts," Judkins said.

Judkins acknowledged that the success of Circus Chimera is related to the popularity of Cirque Du Soleil.

The imported French performance style of Cirque De Soleil has been featured on television and at a daily Las Vegas showcase.

"Du Soleil" performance art features death-defying high wire artistry and coordinated music and lighting, as does Circus Chimera.

Judkins said the 100-person international Circus Chimera troupe has been touring for four seasons.

This is its first performance in Calexico.

"Calexico is a good circus town. I've been here with other shows," Judkins said.

In Greek mythology, a Chimera is a fire-breathing monster resembling a lion in the front, a goat in the middle and a dragon or serpent behind.

The word is now used generally to denote an illusion, figment of the imagination or unrealizable dream, according to Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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