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We all remember our first time at the circus. Mine was when Maa had dragged me along to one over a decade ago. Her childhood stories of seeing acrobats jump through wheels of fire, of lions and magicians ensnaring crowds had been devastatingly beautiful; ten-year-old me had been wide-eyed and ready for the excitement. But when the show actually ended, I walked out bearing more guilt than satisfaction.
Sure, the trapeze artists were great, as were the dance routines in sparkly leotards. But it isn’t as easy to cover up the scabs on a horse’s legs. Or a dove’s wings, clearly clipped into submission. The tears in a grown elephant’s eyes. The cracked, patchy skin that handlers try to cover up with cloth and toxic paint.
That show, unsurprisingly, was the last time that I—and many like me—visited the circus. Somehow, the charm of antiquity can’t tentpole the weight of apathy. Legislative bodies globally haven’t been keen on giving travelling shows leeway with animals either, with several outright bans, while Indian acts have quite the terrible track record.
This explains why so many avoid attending: the animal abuse far too great for consumers, the plummeting attendance far too unsustainable for operators. Even Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey shut shop after 146 years of being ‘the greatest show on Earth’. Couple that with the millennial tendency to be homebodies, and you’ve got a tradition that’s swiftly collecting dust.
Unless you’re an innovator like Circus Roncalli.
In a push against animal cruelty, the 43-year-old German company magnificently beat the odds by being the first to use 3D holographic animals in their shows. These live-sized beasts can accomplish headstands and other dizzying tricks, the galloping horses flying above reminding visitors of Hogwarts’ Great Hall. If you want to create happier (and more sustainable!) memories of the circus, this is the place to start. As for operators—getting the initial infrastructure in place might take time, but the obvious savings from not having to worry about grooming, maintenance and training make this a viable option.
The feat was made possible with the use of 11 ZU850 laser projectors, combined with long throw lenses that could fill up a 105-feet arena. Roncalli’s agency TAG/TRAUM worked with German companies Bluebox and Optoma for the venture. Of course, these holo-animals are now the main draw, in what can be seen as a bout of explosively good karma. If you’re anywhere near Western Europe in 2019, Roncalli is an attraction you can’t miss. Their tour dates and ticket information can be found here.
Activism of any kind remains as lip service unless forward-thinking companies like Roncalli actually implement the groundwork necessary for change. And when it’s an unadulterated answer you can support financially, what’s not to love?
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