When the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus arrives next week, locals can get a good look at its newest and perhaps least likely superstar: Thor, a 3-year-old white rhino with a surprising sense of rhythm. (Ever look at a rhino's feet? These fellows were not born to dance.) He'll be sharing the spotlight with nearly 200 performers--human and animal alike--in the circus's 120th anniversary show at the Anaheim Convention Center July 17 through July 24.
The two-legged toast of the tent this year is Flavio Togni, 30-year-old leader of the Famiglia Togni, an Italian troupe touted as "Europe's First Family of the Circus." At the boyishly handsome Flavio's command, four Asian elephants will do-si-do with a quartet of palomino stallions -- a tricky combination, says Togni, given the two species' differing capacities for learning.
In their never-ending quest for the bizarre and the beguiling, the Ringling Brothers also will present Marguerite Michelle, a brunette beauty who, with her two daughters, has revived the centuries-old Oriental art of hair-hanging. They are, in fact, billed as the only hair-hanging act in the United States (you can see why a lot of people don't flock to this job). Suspended 40 feet above ground by a cable attached to their knotted tresses, the three women juggle, pirouette and balance flaming batons. Kids, don't try this at home.