NICOLE BOLIAUX

Circ


Light fills the scene, illuminating the faces of performers as a clown lifts the canvas of the doorway of the Big Top, stepping into the tension of backstage. Acrobats stretch like ballerinas, their leg high in the air on a rung of a ladder. Jugglers shake their hands repeatedly, warming them up; one nervously pushes her child in a stroller back and forth. The drummer just finishing his cigarette shares a joke with a clown, easing the nerves.

Kimberly Giribaldi-Raluy, 18, enters followed by her younger sister Jillian, 16. As they bend and stretch and prepare their mother Rosa exits from her own performance, they exchange a few words and part.

In Circ Raluy family is scattered throughout the acts. Kimberly and Jillian’s cousin Kelly preforms in an act with her husband while their young children play back stage. Kelly’s father Luís preforms as a clown after Parkinson’s limited his ability as an acrobat. Luís’ brother Carlos hosts the circus, leading the audience through each act.

Those not directly related intervene with their own families in the caravan city of Circ Raluy. Alex and Emilia Rotaru raise their one-year-old daughter while traveling with their troupe “Alexandros,” also comprised of Maria, her husband and her brother.

All the families combine and intersect with each other backstage before the show and around the caravan city. Their lives and emotions intertwining. Coming together to discuss life and shows over laundry or lunch or a cigarette or two.

Luís Raluy, 72, peeks from behind a curtain to watch "Alexandros," the Romanian Acrobatic Troupe, preform. Raluy is one of the three founding brothers of Circ Raluy, a family circus that travels around the globe.

The sister act Jillian, 16, and Kimberly Giribaldi-Raluy, 18, stretch before entering the stage to preform the 'water-meteor,' a juggling routine involving acrobatics. 

Performers like Maria use the days before opening day for rest and exploring the new city. Once the performances start they have one week straight of two performances a night with only one day off.

Maria's brother Cornel Neaugu and her husband Marius Aurel Fatu practice a new acrobat routine before a night of two performances. Maria would like to have a baby in the next year or two and the two men are preparing an act so she can have time off while

Maria's brother Cornel Neaugu and her husband Marius Aurel Fatu practice a new acrobat routine before a night of two performances. Maria would like to have a baby in the next year so the two men are preparing an act so she can have time off while pregnant. 

As members of the Aledandros acrobatic troupe warm up before their preformance, Emilia "Lili" Rotaru pushes her daughter Alexia around in a stroller as a part of her pre show ritual.

As members of the Aledandros acrobatic troupe warm up before their performance, Emilia "Lili" Rotaru pushes her daughter Alexia around in a stroller as a part of her pre-show ritual.

Members of the Alexandros troupe prepare dinner together outside their caravans discussing other circuses. Alex, Lili and their daughter Alexia live right next to Maria and Marius. "Alexia has two mothers, I can't believe she's not mine," Maria said.

In just two days a Big Top is hoisted into the sky in a park in Port Vell, Barcelona, Spain transforming it into Circ Raluy. The circus has traveled throughout Spain and Portugal for 70 years and is the only museum circus in the world. 

Members of Alexandros smoke behind the big top before the first performance on opening day in Barcelona, Spain on December 4, 2015.

Members of Alexandros smoke behind the Big Top before the first performance on opening day in Barcelona, Spain on December 4, 2015.

Luís preformed as an acrobat all his life until old age and Parkinson's inhibited his physical ability. Now Raluy preforms as a clown in Circ Raluy alongside his children, nieces and nephews.

Pave "Pasha" Voladas prays before preforming on the fixed bars. His father was a circus performer and Pasha grew up as a gymnast. Before each performance he prays, kisses a necklace and makes the sign of the cross before entering the ring.

During the opening week in Barcelona, there are two performances a day. Alina Dankova stretches backstage before the first show of the series on December 4. 

The iconic big top is raised in just two days of arriving in Barcelona. Sevdalin Goranov screws in lightbulbs to the ceiling feature of the tent.

 Sevdalin Goranov screws in lightbulbs to the ceiling feature of the tent.

Waiting for her father for feedback on practice, Kimberly Giribaldi-Raluy, 18, sits on a chair designed for her and her sister's icarian games performance. Icarian games is normally performed by two brothers or a brother and a sister because of the streng

Waiting for her father for feedback on practice, Kimberly Giribaldi-Raluy, 18, sits on a chair designed for her and her sister's Icarian Games performance. Icarian Games is normally performed by two brothers or a brother and a sister because of the strength needed.

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