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DERRING-DO MEETS DIPPITY-DO : The Ringling Bros. present America's only hair-hanging act. Not to mention a dancing rhino.


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.

For more hair-raising fun, there'll be three rings of aerial derring-do. , all without a safety net. In the "he ain't heavy, he's my brother" department, look for the Savio Brothers, whose repertoire includes "head-balancing": one brother spins rings on his arms and legs while standing on his head--which may sound simple until you consider that he's being supported on the other brother's head.

Yukking it up between all these amazing feats are the folks from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's Clown Alley, 25 jokesters guaranteed to make you forget, if only for a moment, all those unpaid bills and bad report cards.

But then, maybe that's just what the circus is all about.

What The 120th Edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When July 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. July 19, 23 and 24 at 1:30 and 7:30. July 20 at 1:30 and 8. July 21 at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 8. July 22 at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30.

Where The Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim.

Whereabouts Across from Disneyland. Take the Katella Avenue exit from Interstate 5. The center is half a block west of Harbor Boulevard.

Wherewithall $8.50 to $12.50. Discounts available for some performances. Parking: $5.

Where to call (714) 999-8900. Tickets can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster, (714) 740-2000.

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