Under the big top, the ring was dark. There were neon blue and green beams at the center. Whispers and giggles came from the audience. Once the show began, the audience, whether adult or child, couldn't contain their amazement.
Leidy Astaiza and Susana Silva were twirling on an aerial perch, which is a pole suspended in the air. A curtain of water fell around them, with lights and music synced to their moves. The duo held each other by their arms, and once, by their necks.
That was only the first act during opening night of the "Aqua," a show performed by Cirque Italia, the traveling water circus that is visiting Kokomo through Sunday. The mammoth blue-and-white big top tent will be occupying the Kokomo Event Center's parking lot with six more show times.
The Gold Tour is one of the three circus tours ran by Cirque Italia, along with the Silver Tour and the Paranormal Tour, which is an 17-and-over horror-themed show. The Gold Tour travels along the East coast of the U.S. through most of the year, Public Relations and Media Representative Sarah Kessler said.
The water circus has a 35,000 gallon water stage, which is suspended above the ring, which drops a sheet over water around the stage. The show features several acts including the wheel of death, dual lyra aerialists, aerial perch, roller skates, Chinese pole, a quick change show, BMX and more, Kessler said.
"The lights and sound marries with the water and performance," she said. "It presents a completely unique experience, something that you wouldn't see in a traditional circus."
Performers include Karchy and Anita Zerman, who competed on America's Got Talent with quick change, BMX and roller skating acts. The twin Fusco Brothers currently hold the Guinness World Record for juggling, which is 42 minutes, Kessler said.
"What I love the most is watching the kids in the audience," she said. "They get so into it, they're dancing, and cheering. It's just great, the reaction you see."
Performer Roxi Midi was always an entertainer. She started in ballroom dance but later she trained for a year before she started working in the circus. Now she's a dual aerial lyra performer.
"It's not a normal job," she said. "When you're up there, it takes a lot of self-control, trust and respect. You have to have confidence and strength, to have your head in the game, there's no distractions."
Midi is from Romania. She now travels with her boyfriend, a fellow performer, and her son.
"My kid loves the circus, he wants to be around it all day," she said. "It's a different circus than other companies. I get to have my son with me, I get to hang out with him all day. Everyone who works with me, they're all like his aunts and grandmas. They're all family to me."
Corissa Fusco has been in the circus world since 2010, and with Cirque Italia since 2015. She was introduced to the circus through her husband, who is one of the Fusco Brothers. She started at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey.
"My husband is a fifth generation circus performer," she said. "So some of us were born into this and some of us are like me, who joined later. I grew up doing gymnastics and it was like we had that in common, so it wasn't that big of a jump for me to get involved."
Fusco's children are 10 and 3 years old. Her daughter, Bella, was running around the tent with her face painted purple and blue, twirling a bubble wand while Fusco manned the face painting station.
"Bella loves the circus, she's already started learning how to do her own makeup," she said. "My son is sort of into it, but he might not pursue the circus. So we have to make sure he's getting all of the education he needs if he wants to do something else. Science, mathematics, we have to take care of our kids' education."
The circus usually travels on Sundays and Mondays, the tent is set up on Tuesday and Wednesday and performances go on Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon. Even though Fusco doesn't perform on Tuesday and Wednesdays, she said those are her busiest days.
Everyone takes on several roles. Fusco is the circus' on-site media contact, face painter and performer, just like Midi is the office ticket manager and performer.
"We all everything. I'm social media manager, performer, face painter, director, mother, doctor, teacher, babysitter, and I love it," she said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."