My name is Ivan M. Henry and I am the creator of thecircusblog.com.
I would like to talk to you about the Circus and the people that make their living in it. For several hundred years the circus in one form or other has brought joy, thrills, laughter and excitement but more than that it offers clean family entertainment and has done so the world over. The performers of the American circus have done more to help their country than most. One American president said, “They give away the only thing they have to sell.” Circus people have always been ready and willing to come the aid of people in need–performing for charitable organizations, hospitals, USO shows, and benefit shows too numerous to mention. We’ve existed for almost 3,000 years and have never been censored or ridiculed, until now.
Now I’d like to get to my point. For the past several years, I have found it extremely annoying that the media in general along with our political leaders find it amusing and to their advantage to use the word ‘circus’ in a derogatory manner. I am sure you’ve heard this negative expression as well.
In recent years the term, ‘circus’ but particularly ‘three-ring-circus’ has, I believe inaccurately, been identified with chaos, confusion, frivolity and excess. But if you have ever had the privilege to work on or with a circus, you would know that the show is entirely about organization, skill and absolute precision. There is nothing confusing about the show itself, only the lack of focus by the patron who wants to see all the action in all the rings at once, rather than focusing on the individual accomplishments in each.
Why do you think the U.S. military would watch the coordination of train and truck shows for valuable insight into the speed and coordination of loading, unloading and set-up of gear, animals, equipment and performers? And it is not just our military. Before and during WWII, the German army watched and learned the precision timing that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey used during their European tours.
Historically, the circus has been a melting pot of color, creed and nationality. A true representation of what America is all about. The difference is, in the circus we do not politicize our differences. Presently many of our elected officials have become proficient at exploiting just about everyone for political gain. And sadly, our media outlets, which were once the beacon of truth and information for our citizens, now have the dubious distinction of not only being complicit but of over-sensationalizing for political and monetary gain.
In recent years, there has been an underlying, subliminal attack on the character of circus performers as uneducated, footloose and fancy-free and generally irresponsible. On the contrary, it is a decent society of people who care about each other, the audience and the world around them. My father used to say, “The show must always go on,” however it meant more than that. It meant being responsible because each circus worker, from performer to prop hand has a specific function that is integral to the coordination and timing of each show as well as the overall success of your community. There is no reward in failure. He was trying to impart the philosophy that it is important to live every aspect of your life with integrity and a purpose, and with the understanding that you are here for a reason. Never forget God the Creator.
In certain segments of modern entertainment, instead of progressing we have regressed. We are supposed be morally and intellectually progressive, but as a society we, and our entertainment outlets in particular have lost our morality and the educational benefits to our youth. Rather than patronize the circus, which was once the cutting edge of entertainment and is still the last bastion true artistry in every genre from aerial ballet to comedic timing, and the breathtaking feats of balance that only circus performers would dare to attempt. And let’s not forget the awe-inspiring talents of circus trainers that are so adept at utilizing the intellect and dexterity of of their animal charges, ranging from dogs to sea lions to horses and elephants–all of the wonderful and beloved creatures of the circus. We now rely on the smoke and mirrors of digital technology to satiate our thrill-seeking natures. We want our TV, movies and video games to be the bloodiest, raunchiest–but what is the value in this type of entertainment? The circus provides the honest thrill of watching the magic of human dexterity and perfection that comes from practice and dedication.
I am amazed at the ignorance of the people that ridicule and demean the circus profession. My goal is to educate the ignorant and perhaps invite them to see an American tradition, the circus. Go into the backyard of the circus and meet and talk with those performers. And just maybe you’ll run away with the circus and if you do, you’ll be a better human being for it.