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Circus acrobats hang out, perform hair-raising stunts at Hagerstown Speedway

May 01, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Her legs hooked through a loop of red fabric, Viktoriya Medeiros dangled gracefully upside-down as she and her partner were hoisted toward the ceiling of the big top -- linked together by their hair.

The painful-looking stunt, known as a double hair-hang, was dreamed up a few months ago by the pair of Bulgarian acrobats, who formerly performed a double-silk act.

"This year, we just tried to make it different," Medeiros said during the intermission.

The hair-hang is one of more than eight acts new this year in the Cole Bros. Circus, which is at the Hagerstown Speedway this week.

Medeiros and her partner, Petya, have been performing the hair-hang for about a month, and have practiced it for three or four. And no, she said, there's no trick; the dangling woman's body weight is supported entirely by the hair, which is wrapped in fabric attached to a clip.

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"It hurt more in the beginning," she said. The women have learned the stunt is less painful with wet hair, and have also noticed the feeling is different for the upside-down performer than the one who is rightside up. Upside-down, the pressure is more on the neck than the hair, Medeiros said.

Once her act is over, Medeiros shifts roles from performer to mother, slipping into the audience to watch the show with her 2-year-old son, Kristopher, who seems to have daredevil in his blood. His father, Andrey Medeiros, is the show's motorcycle stuntman.

Andrey, who is from Brazil, said his mother's family has been involved in circuses for five generations, but his father was a lawyer and his other siblings became doctors.

He said he doesn't regret choosing to follow in his mother's footsteps.

"You travel around the world," he said. "That's the only way I've learned to speak five languages."

Of course, the job carries some amount of risk, but the Medeiroses don't seem to be concerned.

"Every year, we try to kill ourselves in a different way," Andrey said with a broad grin. "It's a regular job for us. The danger is everyday for us."




If You Go:



What: Cole Bros. Circus

When: Today, shows at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Speedway

Cost: $17 for adults. Children under 12 admitted free with paid adult and coupon available at www.freekidstickets.com

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