Hair-raising job

Yak's Corner

Just For Kids

November 15, 1999|By Janis Campbell

Alexis Ayala, 15, is the youngest in a hair-hanging sister act in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When the Yak met Alexis earlier this fall, he asked her if hair-hanging hurts.

Yup, it does, Alexis says. "But I don't think about the pain when I'm performing."

What does she think about? "I concentrate on doing the tricks," she says.

While Alexis and her two big sisters are hanging about 30 feet above the floor, they perform acrobatic movements and amazing spins. They even juggle fire.

If it sounds unusual, it is. But it's what Alexis always wanted to do. She is a fifth-generation circus performer. Her mom, sisters and grandmother have helped her realize her dream by teaching her the family act. Her dad weaves the sisters' hair into special braids and hooks them to steel cables before they perform.

Alexis started practicing when she was 11 and started performing when she turned 13.

When she finishes up this year, Alexis is heading home to Sarasota, Fla., for a long holiday break and a chance to let her hair down.

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