By Cailey Barnhart
The Southern Park Mall parking lot may be the last place one would expect to see death-defying aerial, juggling and roller skating acts, but an Italian big top came to town last week to prove that amazement can be found in unexpected places.
Cirque Italia, the first and only traveling Italian water circus, premiered their newest show “Aqua” in Youngstown Aug. 22-25.
Sarah Kessler, Cirque Italia’s media representative, describes the show as “an innovative and unique production, the only one of its kind in the country.”
Corissa Fusco, an aerial net performer, has been with Cirque Italia since 2012. She also paints faces before the show, handles the social media pages and acts as the on-site media contact.
“Thirty-five thousand gallons of water go into a pool that we have on the stage, and it sprays up like a fountain and rains down like a curtain,” she said. “The performers are in the middle doing whatever their act is.”
The show features performers from countries around the world, including Romania, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United States.
Although audience members can take souvenir photos with a realistic dinosaur and elephant during intermission, the show has a strict no-animal-act policy.
“We want to focus on one thing, and that is human capability,” Fusco said. “We want to see how far we can push the limit and see the originality the performers can bring to make it unique and different.”
“This especially applies to the water, which is the big wow factor that puts our show over the top,” she added.
Cirque Italia travels most months of the year, reserving three to four weeks off for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Despite the constant traveling, Fusco said she enjoys experiencing new places with her children.
Roxana Midi, who works as the ticket office manager and performs in the aerial duo segment, has been with Cirque Italia for three years. According to her, the show is very unique.
“We bring a small part of Las Vegas to your home city,” she said.
Midi travels with her child and has a brother in another unit of Cirque Italia. She said over time she became comfortable with traveling and began to enjoy it.
“It’s a new city, a new location, a new girl doing your nails. All of the people working at the show are very close. It’s like a big family,” she said. “If I need something, need advice or I’m having a rough day, I can go to someone’s trailer and ask for help.”
Midi was a ballroom dancer for seven years and began circus performing five years ago. She did not come from a circus family, but she had the opportunity to join and seized it.
Midi has been performing her aerial duo act for one year and feels the show is different from others because the performers work with water.
“Imagine standing in the middle of a fountain, and then imagine that 30 feet off the ground. The water provides a lot of emotion,” she said. “So you have to have trust and confidence in yourself and the other people you’re working with. You have to put your mind in a good place, and have a lot of trust.”
Cirque Italia has upcoming events in Grove City, Harrisburg, Whitehall and Wilkes-Barre through the end of September. Dates and tickets can be found on the show’s website, https://cirqueitalia.com.