Flynn Creek Circus

Jenavieve Dance and Maya Deloche, called the 2-Headed Girl, are aerial contortionists who specialize in the aerial hoop for the Flynn Creek Circus, based in Mendocino.

When I grow up, I want to run away to the circus.

Not surprisingly, my choice of future employment was cemented by an afternoon performance of Flynn Creek Circus, an all-human circus, held on a warm Sunday afternoon under the big top in Santa Rosa.

I was smiling ear-to-ear throughout the performance – dazzled by “Gentlemen Jugglers, Kris and Harrison Kremo,” the father-and-son duo who juggled balls, top hats, bowlers and small boxes. Maybe I could learn to juggle, though it would take some effort to catch up with the younger Harrison, who started juggling when he was 5. I’m older than that now.

Or, maybe, I could be a circus acrobat, like Max Jay, from Las Vegas, and Rob Demshki, who is self-taught and flies through the air with the greatest of ease. Max was a competitive gymnast for 14 years before starting to perform four years ago. He loves extreme sports, such as skateboarding and snowboarding.

All I know is that when these two started jumping on each end of a teeter-totter, they started flying in the air, straight up and down, again and again, nearly hitting the top of the big top tent. That, I think, could be a useful skill to learn. I mean, who doesn’t want to fly?

Or, I could be a circus strongman like Nick Harden, who rides a unicycle. He’s bald, wears glasses and has a mustache. He also has lots of strength … because he performs acrobatics on his unicycle with his wife, Wendy. She would jump on his back, climb onto his shoulders, and then stand up, while he pedaled the unicycle around in small circles. Or she would do a handstand on his shoulders, or she would grasp his strong arms and end up in a horizontal position.

Talk about control and strength … it took my breath away.

There was a two-headed girl in the circus … well, OK, a mischievous rabbit used a magic spell to tie their hair together, but it was almost the same. Anyway, Jenavieve Dance and Maya Deloche are both aerial contortionists, using an aerial hoop, which is tied to ropes and pulleys, and is manually raised and lowered, over and over again while they do acrobatics on and with the ring. The two were exciting and I took out my Brownie camera to get a photo of them during the performance. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Maybe, I could learn some card tricks and be a magician. My mother’s cousin, Jack Denton, is a professional magician, TV actor and showman – he even changed his name to be on stage.

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The magician at the Flynn Creek Circus is Shem Biggie, which also sounds like a made-up name. He was most handsome, wore a beautiful cutaway coat and was clearly in charge – or at least he thought he was. He grew up in Northern California and has been performing since he was 9 years old. He performed some neat card tricks and, although I was in the second row, I couldn’t see how he did them. I guess that’s why they call it magic.

The show focused around Shem Biggie pulling a rabbit out of a big hat and the rabbit, portrayed by Amelia Van Brunt, not wanting to go back into the big red hat. According to the program, Van Brunt is a professional and award-winning actor, creator, clown, teacher, dancer, character extraordinaire and founding Artistic Director of the theater company called “Bad, Bad Bunny.”

I think I could learn to be a clown … or an actor … I don’t know about being a dancer, since I seem to have two left feet.

My great-uncle remembers when the circus came to his town in Defiance, Ohio. He said they traveled by railroad and they’d stop and unload at a vacant lot right outside of town. He told me about how the big tent was set up, how exciting it was to see all the hustle and bustle of the circus and the performers getting ready for opening night.

I didn’t see the big top go up in Santa Rosa, but I’ll bet it was quite a sight … because it was a big tent that could hold lots of people. And, in the center of it was the stage. There were no nets, but the backstage crew would roll out huge pads on the wooden floor. Thankfully, nobody fell from high up in the tent.

Maybe I could learn to throw sharp knives at a plywood board. It was most exciting, because there would be one knife thrown just as Van Brunt walked in front of the board. Then, just as suddenly, another knife was thrown, this one pinning her in. Then another, and another, one high, one low, just barely missing the rabbit. Well, you can get she skedaddled out of there as quickly as she could.

The knife throwers were called “Revolutionist Rabbits” and they were portrayed by David Jones, Frederick Anderson and Blaze Birge. The program says that Jones and Birge trained with a fifth-generation Romanian circus family long ago in a faraway land.

Maybe that’s why I want to run away to the circus when I grow up … I’d like to see faraway lands and learn the great mysteries there. Right now, as summer’s ending, I’d best stop daydreaming … and get ready to go back to school. This fall, I’ll be in the fourth grade, with Mrs. Betlach at Naperville Elementary School.

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Editor’s Note: If you’d like to be a kid again, you need to go see Flynn Creek Circus, based in Mendocino. They will have a few more performances in Northern California and Southern Oregon before their 2019 season ends. For details, visit FlynnCreekCircus.com.


St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st