Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus begins its five-day stint in Phoenix June 22 at US Airways Center with a brand-new show for its audience.

Fully Charged, the circus' 141st show in its history, is a new program that began its run in January.

"Every year is always different but this year is about how the power of the performers electrify the audience and how the audiences' energy get us going," boss clown Dustin Portillo explained. "That's how Fully Charged was created, to bring both the audience and circus performers together to create one unique show."

This year's show features 118 performers from 17 different countries. Forty Russians and 30 Chinese help the diversity of the show. American audiences have never seen several of the acts that originate in other countries.

Portillo points out the Brothers of Brawn as an example of a new act in Fully Charged. The Brothers are from Uzbekistan and have never been to the United States before the tour began in January. They do a hand-to-hand balancing act in the new show.

Another act that is new and exciting to audiences is the Human Fuse. Brian Miser is the Fuse, a self-taught human cannonball that launches from a crossbow while on fire.

Famed animal trainer Tabayara Maluenda, also known as Taba, is a highlight of Fully Charged, according to Portillo. Taba performs with 12 tigers and nine elephants. That number of tigers has not been seen in 25 years, Portillo said.

The electrifying atmosphere of the circus creates most of its appeal, according to Portillo.

"You can go to the movies and spend $30 or you can go to Fully Charged and spend $20, but you get 360 degrees of entertainment," Portillo noted. "We have everything from horses to zebras. A movie is one-dimensional but a circus is three-dimensional."

In addition to the regular show, individuals have the opportunity to go to an all access pre-show, where they are able to go onto the arena floor and meet the stars of Fully Charged. Guests can then take photos or get autographs from the performers.

"Coming to Phoenix is always fantastic because the audiences are always into [the show]," Portillo said. "There is something about the Southwest of the United States as people feel like they're more into our show, which helps to drive each and every performance."


The circus will go from June 22 to 27 at US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St. in downtown Phoenix. Tickets range from $85, for Circus Celebrities, to $13. Opening night tickets are 50 percent off, excluding Circus Celebrities, Front Row and VIP Seating. Kids tickets are $10. Call 1-800-745-3000 to reserve seats or visit www.ticketmaster.com to buy tickets online. For more information on the show, visit www.ringling.com.

Anna Gunderson is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a freshman at Arizona State.

(1) comment


Isn't this just irresponsible reporting? Ken Feld, Ringling's owner, testified a few years ago that the elephant trainers do indeed "strike" the elephants with bullhooks in order to get them to perform. Elephants are chained for 20+ hours in concrete enclosures in between performances. Lions: caged. Elephants are chained on travel cars for up to three days at a time, standing in their own excrement. They only perform humiliating and unnatural tricks out of fear. Watch the undercover videos. Look at the pictures posted online. It's a shame that you are still glorifying animal circuses in light of the realities.

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