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Perpetual motion suits circus folk

May 08, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - A performer in his family's high-stakes business, Yevico Rodriguez must go to work every day knowing he's got some big shoes to fill.

And, even if he does a good job, he'll be called a clown.

Rodriguez sang along to flamenco music as he tapped pillows of makeup powder against his nut-brown face. Pairs of bulbous red and yellow shoes sat on the floor. Fake eggs lined a crate on a shelf on the wall.

Rodriguez and his colleagues at Cole Bros. Circus came to town Monday as part of a two-day, four-show appearance.

They will take their places under the big top again at 4:30 and 7:30 tonight at Hagerstown Speedway.

The nomadic lifestyle - the circus travels to Fredericksburg, Va., Wednesday - suits 20-year-old performer Vladimir Kim.

"To actually stay in one place, to go to work, go to school, go to work, go to school, then go to work once you're done with school seems a little far-fetched," said Kim, a native of the Soviet Union who juggles with his brother while the two stand atop horses.

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Rodriguez, who feigned bashfulness when he was approached by two strangers, seemed at ease as he began his transformation into a clown.

"It's my life," Rodriguez said.

Like Rodriguez, Andrey Medeiros said he is continuing a family tradition in the circus. At 29, he has a son who will never have to run away to join the circus.

"My family is five generations in the circus. It's not really an option, I have to. My father is a lawyer, and my mother is (in) the circus ... I went to the dark side. I went to the black side," said Medeiros, an acrobat.

The father of a 14-month-old, Medeiros said his son already is fascinated by motorcycles.

Dan Baltulonis, marketing director for the circus, said the first stakes for the show went in the ground at 5:30 a.m., but by late afternoon Monday, the area around the tent was anything but circus-like.

"They're pretty much wiped out, so a lot of them are sleeping," said Baltulonis of the show's entourage. In all, about 50 of the show's travel staff of about 110 are performers, and during their nine-month season, they get only a few days off - to travel to the next tour stop, Baltulonis said.

A former police officer in Florida, Baltulonis said he's enjoyed his six-plus years in the circus, but he hasn't picked up any tricks of the trade. When a former human cannonball asked if he wanted to learn the act, Baltulonis said he dithered about wearing tights.

The grind of two shows a day, nine months a year isn't for everyone, conceded Kim, but he said he can't imagine doing anything else.

"It's hard work, it's not a haven for leisure. You do this because you have a love for the art," said Kim, as spectators began arriving through the gates.

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