Circus Wows Molokai


An aerial acrobat suspends at Saturday night’s performance. Photo by Catherine Cluett

From the swish of silk suspending aerial acrobats high above the crowd to the roar of motorcycle engines making dizzying loops inside the “globe of death,” the Modern American Circus came to town last weekend bringing laughter, oohs and ahhs.

“The circus hasn’t been here for a long time, so this is huge,” said Saturday night attendee Orion Niles. “We’ve brought grandpa, son, and grandsons here today to see it.”

The Modern American Circus showcased its first-ever performance last weekend on Molokai as part of its statewide tour. With sold-out shows last Friday and Saturday, the big top boomed with cheers and laughter bringing exciting family fun and entertainment to Maunaloa, hosted by Molokai Ranch.

“Aloha! We love you Molokai,” boomed circus Producer Cornell Nicholas to the crowd Saturday night. “We’ve had such a great time here.”

The event hosted concessions, face painting, rock climbing, and bounce house games, hosted by event sponsor Kama`aina Kids, in addition to the main attraction — world-acclaimed aerial, ground, and daredevil performers.

“I came with my whole family,” said attendee Kanoe Akina. “This is our first circus and the kids are so excited they want to come back again.”

Olexandr the clown kept the crowd laughing and Olena entertained with her high energy hula hoop twirling. The Arestov team left the audience amazed at their magical wardrobe changes and Angela made it look easy with her aerial displays of flexibility and grace.

Although it takes a lot of hard work to make these performances happen, it’s all about seeing the kids smiling and excited, said circus Director Carl Vincenti.

“Guess what my favorite part was: the motorcycles!” said seven-year-old Sirus Niles after the show Saturday night. “They were spinning and no one else can do that.”

Wheel of death and motorcycle performers Martin Espana Jr. and Ricardo Espana Jr. are fourth generation performers from Central and South America and have been involved in entertainment since childhood.

“We started doing a lot of tumbling and basic gymnastic exercises,” said Ricardo. “Little by little, we started to walk, then run until we got to the acts you see today.”

The cousins have been practicing the wheel and globe of death acts for 11 years now, keeping crowds in suspense worldwide.

“The Molokai crowd has been smaller than we’re used to but they’ve given a good response and they’re very loud,” said Martin.

The Modern American Circus was born earlier this year through a partnership among a group of Hawaii businessmen and entertainment professionals. They pooled their funds to purchase the big top tent, selected performers from around the world, and decided on a plan to bring entertainment to people in their own communities.

Vincenti said the next stop for Modern American Circus will be Oahu, where they will perform for five weeks, but said they will fondly remember their first show on Molokai.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend,” said Vincenti. “The people of Molokai have come out with all of their love and they’ve welcomed the Modern American Circus with open arms and open hearts.”


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