For every three kids who wish to run away to become part of the circus, there’s one who just has to look in his own backyard. For Ivan Vargas, a sixth generation circus performer on his father’s side and a fifth generation performer on his mother’s side, performing is in his blood – literally.
Born to members of The Flying Vargas trapeze troupe, a group that regularly toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the only thing he knew was “the Greatest Show on Earth.” “I was out playing on the trapeze when I was 2 years old, but it wasn’t until I got older that I realized how special it really was,” Vargas told The Weekender.
Even with the elephants as his playmates and other performers as his friends, growing up in a different lifestyle certainly did not take away from unique life experiences. “Meeting people from all over the world, learning about different cultures, and experiencing it firsthand how other people’s cultures work was amazing,” he recalled.
Coming from a long line of acrobats, it is safe to assume that acrobatics was something he didn’t have to think too hard about. However, that wasn’t the case. “I would like to say it was natural, but it wasn’t. I trained really hard for it, and I’m still training,” he admitted.
He started performing with Ringling Bros. as an acrobatic production man, then soon realized his true calling. In this case, he would have some pretty big shoes to fill — clown shoes, that is.
“I wanted to interact with the crowd more, and now I’m doing that as a clown,” he explained. As a member of Clown Alley, he gets to interact with the fans while still using his acrobatic skills. “I’m actually hosting the show this year,” he noted.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is out on its current tour, “Super Circus Heroes,” which will arrive at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre this weekend.
And unlike most circuses with three rings, “Super Circus Heroes” has only one. “The fans are right up on the floor with us,” he said. “We bring real live superheroes to the ring.”
So what makes Ringling Bros. the greatest show on Earth? To Vargas, it is the combination of animals, acrobats, and dancers all with incredible talent that makes it such a unique live show.
As a piece of advice for aspiring performers, he said, “If you have a goal, don’t lose track of it. Everything takes dedication, and nothing happens overnight. Our show is a great example of that, too. Everything you see took years and years of practice.”