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Published: Saturday, 10/27/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Special circus show is a nod to Chinese culture

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

From left, Bella Strauss, 7, Lily Nofziger, 7, and Becca Strauss, 4, all of Wauseon, enjoy a special performance by the circus on Friday. The Chinese Association of Greater Toledo and the circus partnered to celebrate the  ‘Year of the Dragon’ by inviting local children from Chinese backgrounds and their parents to the show. From left, Bella Strauss, 7, Lily Nofziger, 7, and Becca Strauss, 4, all of Wauseon, enjoy a special performance by the circus on Friday. The Chinese Association of Greater Toledo and the circus partnered to celebrate the ‘Year of the Dragon’ by inviting local children from Chinese backgrounds and their parents to the show.
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The pageantry and flair of the circus collided with the culture of China in a special Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show for about 40 area children, many of whom were born in China.

The circus synergy made sense: This is, after all, the Year of the Dragon.

Guests at Friday’s special presentation at the Huntington Center included members of the Toledo chapter of Families with Children from China. The event also featured a performance by dancers from the Chinese Association of Greater Toledo.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Chinese Association of Greater Toledo

Families were treated to the razzle-dazzle of circus acts, plus clowning, juggling, and nods to Chinese culture.

“I think it’s wonderful for them to have a link back to China,” said Laura Brewster, of Grand Rapids, Ohio, who brought her four children — two biological and two adopted — to the event.

Sun, left, and Qin, right, of the Kung Fu Kings, perform during Friday’s show. Sun, left, and Qin, right, of the Kung Fu Kings, perform during Friday’s show.
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Ringling Bros. is in Toledo through Sunday to perform “Dragons,” a show with 130 performers plus animals. Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson, resplendent in a glittering suit and top hat, said the dragon-themed show is “catching fire,” and the circus wanted to host Friday’s free event for families with ties to China.

“We’re the missionaries of mirth,” Mr. Iverson said.

Children watched, and then joined in, as performers demonstrated kung fu skills. Entertainers spun Chinese yo-yos, and dancerstaught the children a hip-shaking, hand-clapping routine in an arena decorated with dragons.

Luanne Billstein, founder of the local FCC chapter, said the group supports and connects families who have adopted children from China. It also welcomes families who have adopted children from elsewhere, including other Asian countries.

The group likes to offer opportunities such as this one for families to experience Chinese culture, she said. Mrs. Billstein serves on the board of the Chinese Association of Greater Toledo, which she said was approached by the circus to participate in the event.

Her daughter Courtney Billstein, 15, attended and enjoyed the circus performance. “I liked everything. I liked the fact that they were able to mix Chinese culture with still being funny,” said Courtney, who was adopted from China when she was about 4 and returned to see her orphanage last year.

The circus continues today at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. Tickets are available through the Huntington Center box office.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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