Before the Show: Setting up the circus

The action at the Jordan World Circus started well before the doors open to the public.

On a snowy Tuesday morning, the Las Vegas-based circus pulled into Farmington for the second stop of their 2017 tour. Just hours after packing up the previous night’s show in Southern Utah, dozens of performers rolled out of a caravan of semi trailers and RV’s to construct the evening’s venue.

In a single afternoon, the crew assembled a three-ring circus complete with tiger cages, aerial setups, concessions, a human cannon and more.

All the while, dancers practiced their routines, clowns put on makeup and elephants and young children circled the dirt floor of the Legacy Event Center. Most of the people who performed that night were once running around circus rings when they were toddlers.

Antonio Acosta, who just joined the tour as the new clown, is the fifth generation of circus performers in his family.

Elizabeth Ayala, who performed later in the evening alongside three siblings, is the sixth generation.

Karin Houcke, who oversees the horses, dogs and camel, is the seventh generation.

The full crew of performers and technicians hail from multiple different continents and make a intertwined network of families by marriage, blood or just shared experiences.

An hour before the show begins, the stages were set and the performers retreated to their campers to put on costumes.

In just four short hours, the show was over, and they began breaking down the sets.

The circus was already in the next city before dawn.

Each week, the photojournalists at the Standard-Examiner take a deeper look at one corner of life in Northern Utah. You can find these features every Sunday in the paper and online.