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Circus Flora Returns To The Big Top With ‘St. Lou Revue’

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Deb Mardin
Deb Mardin and her dog Kenna, among the regular performers at Purina Farms, show off their stuff.

After a lengthy hiatus, Circus Flora's big red tent in Grand Center will once again fill with circus tricks and fans next month — and lots of St. Louis talent. With shows running June 4-6, “The St. Lou Revue” promises a focus on hometown performers and plenty of COVID-conscious safety measures, plus some talented canine newcomers from Purina.

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Circus Flora
‘The St. Lou Revue” will mark Circus Flora’s first return to performances in Grand Center in well over a year.

While the circus is set to return in full force with its international crew of performers this fall, its organizers say this initial return to performances is a safe and fitting way they’ve been able to make “lemonade out of lemons” amid the lingering pandemic.

“We haven’t performed since June of 2019, so it’s been quite a while, and it’s very exciting to be able to come back and do the St. Lou Revue in June,” Karen Shoulders, managing director of Circus Flora, explained Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “The pandemic obviously was challenging for everybody, but it’s really our St. Louis community that got us through, and here we are being able to come back to our St. Louis community and mine some of the greatest talent around to put together this variety show.”

The big top itself will look a little bit different inside and out, Shoulders noted, since it’s been adapted with social distancing and fresh air in mind.

Circus Flora's Long-Awaited Return Puts Talented Dogs, Jugglers And Even A Hairealist In The Spotlight
Listen as host Sarah Fenske talks with the circus' managing director, Karen Shoulders, as well as dog trainer Deb Mardin.

“It’s more or less an open-air venue at this point — the sidewalls are off, [with] great ventilation, [and] we’ll have fewer people,” she said. “Circus Flora’s kind of always been known to be kind of an intimate performance venue as it is. But it’ll be even more so, because we’ll have less people in it, [and] we’ll have a stage instead of our typical ring this time around.”

In addition to a magician, jugglers and even a hairealist, the June run features a new partnership with Purina dog trainers, including Deb Mardin, who lives in New Haven, Missouri, with her partner and their 13 dogs.

Two of those dogs, Icelandic Sheepdogs named Notti and Kenna, will perform various tricks and choreographed routines under Mardin’s guidance.

“They both like to jump off my body a lot — they like to jump over my body — they have a really good time doing that. And they’ll be catching a lot of discs,” explained Mardin, who joined Purina just last year but has been training dogs for about a decade.

During the talk show, Mardin offered a glimpse of what the dogs’ training looks like, and also shared what keeps her passionate about working with them.

Related Event
What: Circus Flora presents “The St. Lou Revue”
When: Various performances June 4-6
Where: The Big Top in Grand Center (3401 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103)
Tickets are available via MetroTix.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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