For performers, circus is a way of life

Neighbors

for patrons, it's just plain fun

May 05, 1999|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVER DREAM of running away to join the circus? You missed a chance on Monday, when the Walker Brothers Circus came to town.

The circus gave two performances at Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. It has been traveling since February and is making its way to Alabama and eventually to winter quarters in Sarasota, Fla.

Scott Taylor, ringmaster of the circus, says: "I lived out every child's fantasy when I ran away to join the circus" 22 years ago.

Taylor said that as a child, he would crawl under the kitchen table with a stuffed lion and pretend to be in the circus.

When he was 18, a circus came to town. Taylor approached the owner and asked to join. He started out as Scooter the Clown, then worked with dogs, leopards and finally bought a snake and alligator act.

Taylor still performs with six pythons for the Walker Brothers Circus.

Not everybody joins the circus by running away. Sergio Martinez, an Argentine who performs in the circus' featured act, the Dancing Gouchos, says that many performers are born into circus life.

Catia Walker, one of the owners of the show, is a seventh-generation circus performer. At least two other performers also are seventh-generation circus folks.

Walker used to perform an aerial act with the show. Her daughter, Sashi Walker, 15, continues the family tradition with an aerial performance of her own.

The circus is also a family affair for the Ramos kin. Father, mother and all three children perform a "risley" act: Dad Andreas "flip-juggles" the children -- Petro, 9, and Anjellita, 12 -- in the air with his feet, while they do somersaults.

His wife, Marguerite, serves as spotter.

Alexandr Kartukov has been a juggling clown for 11 years. His parents soared on the flying trapeze for a circus in his homeland. Two years ago, he came to the United States from Ukraine.

His wife, Olena, does a hula-hoop act with the Walker Brothers Circus.

Kartukov says the best part of the circus is the reactions of children. He pulled adults from the audience to become part of his act.

Shelly McGill, a resident of Kings Contrivance village, said she was a little embarrassed to be pulled onstage but had a lot of fun participating in the show.

Sarah Scott brought sons Josh, 5, and Zachary, 2, and neighbors Danny Nairn, 9, and Maria Sloan, 7.

The children loved the show. Danny said his favorite part of the circus was the snakes. Zachary liked the clown best.

Sarah said, "I thought the whole thing was really thrilling."

Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages -- it was almost enough to make you want to run away and join them in the next town.

Artists in our midst

Artists' Gallery in the American City Building houses an impressive collection of original work by local artists.

A recent visit found Columbia photographer Paul Marycz serving as docent at the gallery.

Marycz volunteers one day a month to oversee activities at the cooperative gallery, as do the other 21 members.

In ordinary life, Marycz works full time as a liaison for the Department of Defense. "Photography is my part-time passion," he said.

Marycz and his wife, Sue, have visited Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, California, Florida, Australia, Hawaii and the Bahamas in search of photographic opportunities.

Marycz has two photographs hanging in the gallery this month.

"Frenzy," a photo of Koi fish at feeding time taken in Hawaii, is alive with color and movement. "Sydney," a picture of a Sumatran tiger ready to pounce, was taken in Sydney, Australia.

Marycz will have more work on display there in September, when he will be the featured artist for that month.

This month's featured artist is Michael Syphax, whose medium of choice is colored pencils.

Syphax said he used to work with acrylic paints but found that having young children at home and no studio to work in was too much of a hassle. He had to put away all of his materials each time he worked on a piece to keep the children from getting into the paint.

Syphax has developed a distinctive abstract style: images of loops and undulating forms in vibrant colors.

"My main audience is myself," he said. "I look at the work, and I'm amazed that these things came out."

A reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

Information: 410-740-8249.

Volunteers recognized

Howard County General Hospital honored more than 200 volunteers at a ceremony held at the Sheraton Columbia Hotel during National Volunteer Week last month.

In 1998, volunteers donated more than 33,800 hours of service to the hospital.

Hickory Ridge resident Leonore Hess received recognition for the most hours worked in 1998 -- 986 in all.

Hess volunteers in the library for physicians and staff members at the hospital and is an officer of the hospital's Volunteer Auxiliary.

"Volunteering at the hospital satisfies the need to be needed," she said.

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