Hippodrome

(Hippodrome de Centauri)
Standing like a striped gem with the market sprawling all about it, the circus takes place in an enormous tent of blue and gold banded pseudo-canvas. Golden and blue pinions snap in manufactured, localized breezes atop the tent's pointed peaks.
The road to the Hippodrome is lined with tall poles carved with animals and circus scenes. From each pole, a wrought iron arm stretches over the road, from which hangs a huge glass lantern. Between each pole is a string of small white globes of lights, below which, holograms advertising the performers flicker: “Balancing Betty! The marvelous high wire ballerina!” “The side-splitting Funny Clown Brigade! Endless laughs for all ages!” “Witness the amazing strength of the Spectacular Sergio!” “See the astonishing hoverbike antics of the Blackmore sisters!” The circus runs two shows per day, one during the day at a matinee price, and one in the evening, at the full ticket price. The daytime show is amazing, but nowhere near as spectacular as the evening one. Under the gold and blue peaks, acrobats swing from trapezes or snake about each other on suspended metal rings. Clowns, their faces painted white and with red glowing noses, cavort about, playing pranks on each other and the audience. Feats of strength, balance, and bravery are performed by thickly muscled and lean persons. A mechanical elephant, an extremely lifelike facsimile of the fabled beast, does a balancing act on a huge striped ball, then lifts a small woman into the air on its trunk, her body arching as she balances en pointe. Music swells and voices soar as a first-class orchestra and its singers play out the heartbeat of the show. It's all done with a slow, graceful beauty that makes the entire show feel like a dream.

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