The Zoppe Italian Family Circus brought acrobats and clowns back to Snowmass last weekend.
A huge white circus tent loomed over Snowmass’ base village on Saturday. Inside, the smell of popcorn wafted through the air. The audience of mostly families with young children lined the white bleachers. They clapped and gasped as acrobats flew through the air.
Riders performed stunts on horseback. Dogs jumped through hoops. And, of course, there were clowns.
The Zoppe family circus got its start in Venice in 1842. Now, this is the sixth and seventh generation performing in the ring.
Tosca Zoppe performs stunts on horseback with her husband. She said her family wants to honor the traditional Old World Italian circus.
"We live in a society that’s so fast, and so digital. And the beauty of our show is that when you come to see [it], you kind of step back in time. We’re more about connection with our audience," she said.
The life of a traveling circus performer is almost mythical. In reality, they do spend eight to ten months a year travelling. But, Zoppe said, it always feels like they’re home when they’re under the tent.
"Our community, our neighborhood, is always the same. Our tent goes up in a different location, but the tent is the same, and our home is the same," she said.
Zoppe thinks circus performers often get a bad rap in movies. Even though they make a living by quite literally clowning around, or by doing death-defying stunts, she said people would be surprised at how normal they are.
"You know, we do all the things that normal people do. You know, we eat three times a day or four times or whatever it is. We’re really like normal people. This is just our art and this is just what we share," she said.
There are no high-tech acts or special effects in the ring, but year in and year out, the Snowmass audience clearly appreciates the Zoppe family circus and the history behind it.
The Zoppe Italian Family Circus performs in Denver Aug. 23-26.