Monday, March 7, 2011

The Magic Circus of Samoa

I first heard about the Magic Samoan Circus last May as I drove across the Cross Island Road. In what felt like the middle of nowhere, a large colorful sign advertised the circus and pointed down a deserted road. I inquired about it when I returned to town and was told, “Oh yes, there is a great circus, but it is not here right now, it is on tour.” I thought to myself, “Wow, not only does Samoa have a circus – a magical one at that – but it is so good that it goes on tour!” I promised myself that whenever the circus returned I would be sitting front and center for opening night.

Months past and my dream moved to the outskirts of my mind until it was hardly even an aspiration anymore. I had almost forgot that the magic circus even existed until one day in September when I got word that the circus would be returning! I asked when, but no one knew. December came and I went home for break, still not having seen the circus. But when I returned, there is was - a big top situated right on the seawall in Apia, running shows every night and coming to Savaii in February! I was so excited – I wanted to go right away. But of course, everyone had seen it while I was away on holiday and I did not want to go by myself.
Weeks past and I did not see the show. Then February arrived and the sign went up: The Magic Circus of Samoa would be in Savaii for one week before packing up and heading to American Samoa. My time had clearly arrived – it was now or never for this much anticipated show.

I went to town early Thursday morning, grinning wildly the entire bus ride. Since the show wouldn’t begin until 7pm I had the whole day to shop, do some grading, and get in a swim before heading over to the circus grounds, located right next to the ferry to the left of the wharf. I could go on and on about my anticipation, but the circus was so amazing that I need to get to it.

Lili and I were given complimentary VIP tickets thanks to the kindness of Lusia, and when we arrived, we were literally seated front row center in the box seating area. Lili bought a hotdog and I bought some cotton candy bigger than my head. Nothing has ever tasted so good. In true Samoan fashion, the ticket said 7, but the show did not begin until closer to 8 when the audience arrived.

The circus reminded me of what circuses once were before the glitz and glamour of shows such as the cirque de sole. There were no animals, aside from one very frightened, squealing pig incorporated into one of the clowns’ acts. The stunts were well practiced and daring, but on a small scale. Highlights included four pole dancing men who defied the rules of gravity, a “four legged man” who danced hip hop and “cut off” two of his legs behind a velvet curtain, two clowns, an impressive trampoline act, and some daring juggling. The lowest point was surprisingly the fire dancing – a Samoan tradition which I would have expected to be the best of the best at the circus! Regardless of the subpar Siva Afi, the circus was a great success. Not only were the entertainers captivating, but the crowd was fun to watch as well. Seeing Samoans who rarely leave their village being drawn into the comedy routines was hilarious. One older man was taken onto stage to have his head “cut off” by the clowns in their guillotine. It was clear that he actually thought he was going to die. This poor mans terror fueled the enjoyment for the rest of us as we watched him call out his love to his wife and say his prayers before defying death and living through the dropping of the guillotine.

In short, the circus was nothing less than spectacular, and I am so glad that I was able to catch it before it headed out to tour the rest of Oceana. As is always the case after I see a circus, ballet, or musical, my passion for the arts reignites and I find myself dreaming of one day joining the circus. For now, I will have to be satisfied with life in a foreign country. But who knows, maybe one day, I will be juggling flaming torches while hanging upside down from a trapeze. A girl can only dream.

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