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Cirque Italia water circus makes a stop in Littleton

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By Deborah Swearingen

Cirque Italia made a stop in Littleton last weekend, and those who stepped inside the circus tent probably had a hard time remembering they were in the parking lot of Southwest Plaza mall.

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The tent was small and not fully filled with guests. And Cirque Italia was smaller in size and had less production than many of its counterparts. But despite this, the tent came to life during the 4:30 p.m. Saturday show. Circus clown Coco Kramer spoke Italian, but he kept the show interactive, inciting laughs, claps and cheers from the crowd.

Dubbed a water circus, most of the performers performed on a stage surrounded by a pool of water with fountains spraying and interacting with colorful lights and fog. Cirque Italia prides itself for its custom-designed water stage that travels from city to city and holds 35,000 gallons of water.

The water circus was started in 2012 by Italian entrepreneur Manuel Rebecchi and now features more than 30 artists chosen from auditions in 25 different countries, according to its website.

Last Saturday, contortionists, jugglers, aerialists and other circus acts took turns performing during the 2-hour show. One performer was 16-year-old contortionist Julliet Carballo, a sixth-generation circus performer from Florida.

“This is my life,” Carballo said.

Her brother, Paolo, juggles in the show, and her grandfather she said was the first to open a circus in Lima, Peru. Traveling and performing with a circus is all she has ever known, and that’s probably a good thing because the Cirque Italia troupe travels 11 1/2 months out of the year.

Carballo began performing when she was 9 years old and is working her second season with Cirque Italia. She began to learn contortion and hand balancing when she was about 4.

Mostly, performance is second nature, but there is one trick that continues to make her nervous – the bow-and-arrow trick. Here, she balances on her hands, contorts and pops a balloon with her feet as they stretch over her head. It’s a trick she’s messed up before, and it requires a lot of concentration.

The circus life is tiring but fun, and both Carballo and her fellow performer 23-year-old Christopher Carpenter say traveling is the best part of the job.

“Every chance we get we go out and try to find things to do,” Carpenter said.

For the Littleton shows, this meant a trip to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre and to Estes Park, where performers saw the Stanley Hotel that is famous for inspiring “The Shining.”

“We run away with the circus and then we run away from it sometimes,” Carpenter said, laughing.

The Georgia native is a theater actor who joined the circus this year to help improve his physicality.

“Circus is all about what you can do with your body and pushing yourself to your limits and discovering new things that you can do that you never thought you could,” he said.

“Gaining strength and just learning what I’m actually capable of is really incredible and fun,” he added.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.