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Circus Bella takes Treasure Island

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Circus Bella’s “Kaleidoscope” performers show off their juggling skills. (L.Katz/S.F. Examiner)

In “Kaleidoscope,” the new Circus Bella show under a big tent on Treasure Island, clown Sara Moore balances a broom on her hand and has an amusing bit chasing the spotlight, which just won’t land on her.

It’s refreshingly low concept, as is the rest of this fun, exciting homegrown display of circus artistry produced and directed by Circus Bella co-founder Abigail Munn, who also flies on the trapeze, and juggles.

Just about every performer at the two-hour Saturday matinee (with a 19-minute, 53-second intermission!) juggled, too. In a few segments, all of the versatile acts join together, juggling in the ring.

With one single ring – and a jazzy six-piece band led by accordionist Rob Reich on an upper level at the back of the stage – the show invites the all-ages audience to really focus on the talent.

Aerial artist Veronica Blair, wearing blue sparkles, starts things off, graceful and strong, hanging on straps, balancing and somersaulting.

The equally balanced Gentile Family also amazes and thrills: Adult jugglers Carlo and Orlene, lying on their backs, raise their three kids in the air, and, using their legs and feet, literally toss the young ones around. Wild! (Note: The kids’ skill is called risley, according to the program.)

Sexy Cuban couple Manuel Acosta and Ilenay Peña takes center ring twice. In their first hand-balancing act – she, with both feet planted, stands on his head – and later, they fly and dance on a Chinese pole.

Ringmaster/head jester Steve Smith, promising high-danger feats, first teases Paul Resell when he comes out with a scarf trick. But moments later, Resell comes through, on a hire wire, which he walks and rides a bike across, lies down on his back on, and then walks across again, blindfolded.

Willem McGovern dances and displays finesse at diabolo juggling – a stunt in which hourglass-shaped units are thrown around, using a string-and-bobbin apparatus) – not managing to get tangled and pitching the hourglasses almost to the top of the tent.

It’s hard to watch Mongolian contortionist Serchmaa Byamba without feeling a cramp. Bending her upper body backward to an extent not seemingly possible, she puts her head between her legs. She does it again, standing on her hands, too.

The show closes with Ruslan Khusinov, from Uzbekistan, who makes balancing on his hands, on a tower of six chairs, look easy.

Admittedly, San Francisco’s 10-year-old Circus Bella, best known for park performances, doesn’t have the glitz or pretension of that other animal-less circus now under a big tent in the Bay Area.

Nonetheless, it’s a true delight and worth a trip to Treasure Island. The views of The City are stunning, and the tent is located next to Mersea, the trendy new restaurant in shipping containers, which offers a tasty, elevated snack menu for circusgoers.

REVIEW
Circus Bella
Kaleidoscope
Where: Mersea Meadow, 699 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; closes Jan. 6
Tickets: $39 to $150 (VIP ticket includes snacks by Mersea)
Contact: https://www.circusbella.org/kaleidoscope

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