ATLANTA — A circus opening up in northeast Atlanta Friday is bringing some international flavor. Circus Vazquez started in Mexico in 1969, and it's returning to Plaza Fiesta in Atlanta for a second year. Ringmaster Memo Vazquez said he decided to take the circus on the road and expand during the pandemic because other circuses were ceasing operations. Vazquez is a third-generation circus performer. His niece and nephew are in the circus, making them fourth-generation performers.
The event features 200 performers and staff from all over the world. People from Italy, Columbia, Mexico, countries in Africa and even Ukraine put on acts like the Super Tumblers, acrobatics and the Globe of Death, which features motorcycles speeding through a spherical cage. Vazquez said by keeping the circus in his family, he is able to carry on their legacy.
"As soon as you enter the tent, you will smell the popcorn, the cotton candy," Vazquez said. "That will bring you to your childhood. You’ll remember when your parents brought you to the circus, and it’s all magic. Now, you bring your own child to the circus. This is something you have to live.”
Chicago native James Cannon is part of the Super Tumblers, which is comprised of members from the United States and Guinea Conakry in Africa.
“They have a different culture from where I grew up from, and we’re putting that together to make a great act," Cannon said. "I learn their language, so we all have fun together. We’re like a big family, and we’re unified together. It doesn’t matter about color or anything. We’re here as a family.”
Anastasiia Blyshchyk grew up in Ukraine, where she learned to dance and perform at a school for the arts. She had to escape three weeks after the war broke out in her home country in February. Blyshchyk is part of Bingo Troupe, whose members all come from Ukraine. The circus offers the group an outlet to express themselves while pushing worry out of their minds, at least momentarily.
"My heart is still there in Ukraine," Blyshchyk said. “The moment I go on stage, I feel like I forget about what’s going on because I’m enjoying the time. But I give energy for everyone. That’s how I forget about it, but you’re never going to forget going backstage, in real life or in normal life.”
Circus Vazquez is in the middle of a 10-month tour traveling across the United States. The two-hour show runs every day through the end of July. For more information on tickets and times, click here.
“It’s good to see all the children, all the races, colors, everybody here from the little babies to the grandmothers," Vazquez said. "People need now, more than ever, to laugh, to smile and put away their problems. The circus does that. The circus is magic.”