Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Comes to Barclays Center on March 20

Lords of the rings

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Greatest Show on Earth is coming back to Brooklyn.

Almost three years after taking down its tent in Coney Island, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — elephants, clowns, acrobats, and all — will parade into the Barclays Center.

This year’s show, titled “Built to Amaze,” combines two elements every Brooklynite can relate to: the battle of the sexes and construction, incorporating front loaders, dump trucks, huge wrenches, and giant paintbrushes, with male and female teams of performers striving to outshine each other in dazzling feats of athletic prowess.

“It’s absolutely crazy what these ladies can do!” ringmaster Andre McClain said of the female performers in particular.

McClain pointed to the Duo Fusion and Duo Solys hand-balancers as a perfect example of what audiences can expect. The two husband-wife teams bring domestic tension to a whole new level as the women lift and poise their men atop their heads and shoulders — all while wearing three-inch pumps.

Another fantastic marital pair are the comedic animal performers Alex and Irina Emelin, just arrived from Russia, whose act features 18 tigers, along with 16 black-and-white poodles.

McClain, whose only circus experience in New York City came several years ago at Madison Square Garden, is especially excited to make his Brooklyn debut.

“I’m more thrilled about coming to Brooklyn than I can imagine or say,” said McClain. “Since this is the first year we’re playing at the Barclays Center, I think I’m more excited about performing there than I was at the Garden.”

A former rodeo cowboy from Kansas City, the ringmaster serves as the audience’s guide to the excitement, hyping each act while he rides around the arena atop his horse Comanche.

“I’m like the President, I’m the guy everybody looks up to, but I’m also the biggest fan,” he said.

And no performance would be complete without Ringling Bros.’ legendary elephants — who will be accompanied by music and teams of male and female dancers.

“Once the elephants come out, the show’s over, they don’t even see me,” said McClain. “Guaranteed during that elephant act, everybody’s going to be on their feet dancing.”

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Barclays Center [620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, (917) 618–6700,]. March 20, 7 pm, starting at $20.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Elaine from Bay Ridge says:
I don't know how this show goes on without being fined or even closed for animal cruelty.
I love the clowns, but please leave the wild (endangered, elephants) out of this show!
March 16, 2013, 9:32 am
Pat I from Brooklyn says:
Easy, Elaine. My wife worked in the shipping industry. one of her most bizarre accounts was Ringling Brothers (how do you quote a rate for shipping an elephant to Lisbon?). The paperwork, regulations and stringent guidelines for taking care of the animals was so great that they actually lost money.

I know for a fact that the animals are treated better than humans. They are well taken care of. They are not abused. If anything, they are safrer than if they were in the wild.

Finally, Buying a tiger, bear or elephant is not as easy as going to an animal shelter and picking up a cat. These animals are well trained and expensive to maintain. Abusing them doesn't make economic sense given that they have to perform and alwasy be in peak condition,
March 16, 2013, 5:28 pm
ty from pps says:
"If anything, they are safrer than if they were in the wild."

Pretty weak argument.
March 17, 2013, 2:57 am
Deb from DUMBO says:
Actually, Ringling Bros WAS recently fined by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act - $270,000, which is the largest fine ever against an animal exhibitor. Not to mention that under oath testimony from Ringling's owner and from various employees including the one in charge of training the baby elephants at the breeding center in FL demonstrate that the elephants are struck with bullhooks (like a fireplace poker) and chained for most of the day both in the center and on the road.

If you would like to join us in telling Barclays that abuse is not welcome in Brooklyn, there will be a large opening night educational event outside the arena at 6 pm on March 20.
March 17, 2013, 7:24 am
Max from Brooklyn says:
March 17, 2013, 12:55 pm
Larry from Heights says:
Now if people were only as kind to each other as they are to their iguanas.
March 18, 2013, 9:35 am
Tom from Crown Heights says:
This is a "traditional circus entertainment" in the same way that slavery was a traditional way to raise crops in the South. Yeah, I know they're "only animals" but the people who think it's OK are vipers, and the people who like to go watch are jackasses!

And of course they're in Barclays, named for the the bank that still finances human slave trade. Hey, bring the kids!
March 18, 2013, 10:41 am
katrina from fort greene says:
I was just about to start saying Barklays wasn't all that bad for Brooklyn after all until I read this. Many well respected zoos won't even keep elephant exhibits anymore because there is no real humane way to meet their every need and yet people will still pay to see these amazing beings perform in this insanely cruel and insulting production? Sometimes I really hate the world.
March 18, 2013, 2:22 pm
graham from windsor terrace says:
This circus plays in pretty much every big arena in the United States. why aren't you picketing outside MSG and the Izod center?
March 19, 2013, 6:42 am
Ginger from Windsor Terrace says:
The abuse and mistreatment of these animals to make them perform is unfortunately well documented. Take a look at
March 19, 2013, 3:07 pm
old time brooklyn from lope says:
where in the constitution do annimals have rigts? some one got there panties in a knot and had my earlier post deleted. annimals do not have rights - humans may or may not have a moral obligation to not willingly exact cruelty
March 19, 2013, 8:10 pm
Jim from Park Slope says:
I love seeing the animals perform at the circus. Makes my day and my kids love it too.
March 25, 2013, 1:45 pm

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