The circus comes to town

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Cotton candy sugar rushes, clowns in outrageous makeup, and dazzling acrobats are the memories from my childhood circus experiences some 15 years ago. I would walk up to the big tent, sit on the wooden bleachers, and watch as the amazing acts unfolded before my eyes.

But how do they keep doing this, year after year, and make it seem new?

I asked ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, who has been with the company for more than a decade, if they have done anything differently with this show to keep circus fans on their toes. He explained that the new show, "Dragons," is a mixture of the old and the new. The show was inspired by the Chinese Year of the Dragon.

We should expect to see the requisites: silly clowns running around acting a fool, people flying through the air and animals: lions and tigers, elephants, horses, even cats and dogs. But Iverson ensured this year's show "thrives on innovation" and will feature new acts.

For example, audiences will get to see the martial arts display, Shaolin Troupe. These guys are the real deal, having trained in Shaolin Kung Fu at various martial arts school throughout China. There's also the Sizzling Sirens of the Sky, Ukrainian ladies who are crazy enough to perform in aerial spheres that open hundreds of feet above the ground. The show will conclude with the much anticipated appearance of a 2,000-pound mechanical dragon finally emerging from its specially constructed "cave".

$10-$100. Feb. 2 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 11 a.m. & 3 p.m. Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. 704-688-9000. www.timewarnercablearena.com. - Danielle Brodie


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