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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is back. But it's not an old-fashioned circus

Feld Entertainment is bringing back the "Greatest Show on Earth," to showcase the talents of people from around the world. This time, there will be no animal acts.

It's been five years since Feld Entertainment shut down the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus after falling ticket sales and the removal of elephant and other animal acts yielded an "unsustainable business model," according to CEO Kenneth Feld.

Now, "The Greatest Show on Earth" is coming back next year, and it's not going to be like the circus of old. For one thing, there won't be any animals.

This time, the focus will be on the extraordinary talents of people from Mongolia, France, Argentina, the United States and other spots around the world.

They will include people who tumble through the air, twist their bodies into impossible positions and dance like nobody's business.

Feld Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Juliette Feld Grossman spoke to WUSF from her office in Palmetto in Manatee County.

Her walls are lined with images of other spectacles her company is known for, like Grave Digger, a famous monster truck from Monster Jam, and signed posters from the openings of Marvel Universe Live and Jurassic World Live Tour. Live is where it's at for her company.

Ringling Bros. new logo in red and white
Courtesy of Feld Entertainment

And she says there is nothing like being there in person for entertainment value.

"There's no replacement for live. And what we've seen through the pandemic, and now emerging from it is that there is a craving, and a desire to gather with others and to get together and to experience a live event and to see something that is totally real, before your eyes," said Feld. "And so that's what we create, these special moments of connectivity that just can't be had in a virtual world."

Grossman said the pandemic hasn't depleted the pool of international talent.

"There is so much talent in the world. And over the past five years, I think a new generation of performers has been created. Performers didn't stop during COVID, they continued to train, they continued to try new things and to build out new acts and concepts," she said.

The live shows aren't the only plans Feld Entertainment has for Ringling Bros. They're working on toys, games, and even a theme park.

But that last subject is still up for discussion, Grossman said.

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.
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