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Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Circus, on Ice!

Yesterday we took the kids to the circus again.  I have to admit that I'm kind of a sucker for circuses.  As I child I would beg my parents to take me to the circus whenever it was in town.  It looked so interesting - elephants and acrobats and tigers and clowns!  But my mom always refused, recounting the one time that they took my older sister and she spent the whole time complaining that it stank of elephant.  Now that I'm older, I realize that the cost was also probably a deterrent, as the circus in the US isn't very cheap.

But now that I'm adult and get to choose how to spend my money, I like to take my kids to the circus.  It also helps that it's not very expensive to take the whole family - the expensive tickets usually run around $8 a seat.  And even when you're paying for eight seats (Elizabeth gets a lap), that's still not that much money.

A few weeks ago, I a saw an ad around town for a kind of circus that I've never hear of before - a circus on ice.  I must say that advertising is doing its job because the last time I acted on an ad I saw around town, we ended up going to the Maldives.  

This time, however, it was a lot cheaper and also closer to home.  The idea of a circus on ice sounded interesting.  I've heard of Disney on ice, but I'd never heard of something that combined ice skating and circus tricks.  I confess that I can't think of anything that sounds more entertaining than that.

I had learned from my friendly neighborhood billboard about an app that sells tickets to events around town, so I bought seats almost immediately.  Brandon encouraged me to go for the expensive tickets, so I spent ten dollars a person for front row, ice-side seats.  

The circus was held at an almost new ice arena that opened after we moved to Tashkent.  Evidently hockey is popular enough here that someone decided building an ice rink was a good idea.  After we settled in to our seats, Sophia looked around in awe.  "I didn't know," she said with a note of wonder, "that places this nice existed." 

"Like, in Tashkent?" I asked.  "There are a few decent hotels, but I guess you're not going to those very often."

"No," she replied, "like anywhere.  I thought everything was just always old and crumbly. Like that's normal."  I had to shake my head at her.  I guess that's what I get for raising my children in this part of the world.  I also had to wonder if she has been paying attention at all every summer we go to America, which has lots of places that aren't crumbly.  

After some patient waiting (it seems that when something is supposed to start at a time, it really starts fifteen minutes after that time), the lights went down and the show started.  As I watched the starting parade of performers, complete with New Years characters and the obligatory clowns, I realized that we were going to get a standard Russian circus - but on ice.

It was interesting to see how the acrobatic acts were adapted for ice skating.  All the unicycle riders rode special unicycles that could be pedaled by performers wearing ice skates.  Instead of just walking on stilts, the ladies personifying the seasons skated on stilts.  I got to watch one intrepid acrobat flip off a pole - while wearing ice skates.  I hadn't realized before watching it happen that one can also skip rope in ice skates.  In addition to acrobatic stunts, we also got to watch figure skating numbers.

And of course, since this was the circus after all, there were the clowns.  Not only did they entertain the crowd while performers were hastily changing costumes and preparing for their next acts, they did it while ice skating.  One of them even got to ride a bicycle on the ice while balancing one man on his shoulders and two ladies on either side of the bike.

Sadly, there were no animals included in the circus, which is understandable.  I can't imagine what kind of treats it would take to teach an elephant to ice skate and I don't know if one could make ice skates small enough for a monkey.  It was entertaining enough with just people that I'm pretty sure that none of the children missed the animals.

Despite William's initial disappointment that this wasn't the regular circus, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  I'm not sure why watching people do amazing tricks never gets old, but it's entertaining every time we go no matter how many times we go.  I realized that the circus is another one of those weird cultural experiences that my children won't share with their peers when they leave the house and join normal American society.  I'm sure at some point, warm reminiscences will be shared about circuses, and everyone else will look at my children in complete confusion as Russian circuses were definitely not a regular part of their childhood.  "You know," someone will probably comment, "we just went to places like the movies."

But I guess that's what I get for stranding my children in the former Soviet Union for such a significant chunk of their short lives - more things to tell the therapist.  However, they won't be able to tell the therapist that we never took them to do anything fun.  Even if the fun had more of a Russian flair to it.

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