The circus has changed in Miami. Many years ago when the now imploded Miami Arena hosted so many different events for families, the circus was one of its star annual showcases (the smell never left the arena). The new venue is now the modern American Airlines Arena, the children have now grown up, and a new generation goes to see what Ringling Bros. and Baily Circus has become.
The problem with being an attraction that has been in American culture for over a hundred years is justifying it. Obviously the same standards and practices have changed since Ringling Bros. “Jumbo” years, so keeping it modern and legitimate to all audiences is what allows for this continuing exhibition. So unlike a traveling fair or carnival, Ringling Bros. is set on a higher platform of attention.
Suffice to say, Ringling Bros. have come up with a great plan to keep the circus hip and modern: its performers. Everyone is well aware of the famed “clown college” that are part of Ringling Bros. lore. And there are gymnast that seem to flip forever, and daredevil acrobats flying out from canons or doing that double spinning wheel stunt. But the clowns are right next to them, flipping, dancing, playing instruments. The clown is no longer a buffoon, they are the hype men (and women) that keep the audience cheering and signing along. When a trope of beautiful women in decorated sweats are dancing and a single yellow brightly colored fem-clown is right in the middle of the pack, it’s pretty impressive to see them all dancing to the same rhythm while one is wearing a giant 50’s style poodle skirt.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with performers and clowns, they are never the headliners to the target audience. That audience is of course, children, and the elephant in the room cannot be ignored (literally). The animals are always front and center, the kids are excited and craving to see something outside the tame petting zoo. They want to see the exotic creatures of their stories, and movies, and fairy tales. Ringling Bros. does there best at showing off these beasts of the wild; a cage of tigers, synchronized horses, an elephant parade, and the marvelous antics of a group of poodles (not all the animals are guaranteed to be exotic, but they have an adorable routine).
Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Baily Circus will continue to do their best to keep up with the future. However, they are not dragging behind; they are the most well known circus in North America, and performers are capable of earning a comfortable living. It is perhaps more of an age issue above all that sustains any criticism toward Ringling Bros., the only real critic that matters then is usually above three to ten years old. And when these impartial critics meet face to face with a clown, an elephant, or a ringmaster, they make their voices heard, by laughing and smiling of course.