Thoughts from Steve on Ringling Closure

From the Desk of Creative Director Steve Smith

As the news of the demise of the Big Apple Circus was finally finding a place of uncomfortable compromise in my psyche, came the thunderbolt announcement that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would also be...no more.

To some, these are just sad but true realities at the level of difficult business decisions - hard to make but necessary. To others, just another news story of yet another shop that has to shutter its doors. But for some of us, this is news that shakes the very foundation of our souls. This hits at the level of who we are, what we do and why we’re here. This is devastating.

For me, these were more than just places of employment. These were the incubators of my dreams;
These were the classrooms for my creative spirit;
These were the playgrounds for my imagination;
These were the places that gave me purpose. They gave my life purpose.

For 45 of my 65 years on the planet, this is what has forged my love & passion for performance art with all the different parts and pieces of who I am - This is what has defined...me.

And so...where to from here? How do I make sense of it all? How do I unbreak my heart?

    I.    Get.    Up.

I feel the full force of my loss. I wail and howl and weep with grief. I fall to my knees asking why & how and cursing the cruel, heartless fickleness of fate...but, I.   Get.   Up.

I honor my teachers and my colleagues and my friends and my family by not giving in to despair. I salute all those who came before me by not giving up. I reach down into the depths of my shattered soul to find the strength to give this life my absolute best.

And I am painfully aware that this will take more than strength...this will require courage. There is a terrific quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that says:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

And so, I must get up; I must try...again and again and again. It will most certainly not be easy...but it will be worth it. Because the alternative is not acceptable.

The circus ring is a circle...a symbol of unity. It is continuous - it has no beginning, it has no end. A great and glorious part of circus history has come to an end, but the circus, as an art form, didn’t die today. It is evolving. It is up to us to pick up the dimmed & tattered torch that has traveled across time and through the ages; to dust it off; to reignite the fire of wonder and awe and to fan that spark into an unquenchable flame that is the future of the circus. To do anything less is simply unthinkable.

And so, get up.

Onward,...ever onward!

~ steve ~