The circus is coming to town, bringing with it lions, tigers and… dragons? Not really, but maybe a unicorn will make a surprise appearance in this year’s Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey production, Dragons, which runs from July 11 to August 5 at the Staples Center.
Trying to appeal to children as well as their Game of Thrones obsessed parents with a culturally relevant theme is one of many tactics used by show producers (and sisters) Nicole and Alana Feld to adapt a classic form of entertainment for modern audiences.
“Every culture has dragon lore,” Nicole Feld says, and that translates to cross-cultural interest. Given that the Feld Entertainment Company’s productions are performed around the world, global appeal is a must.
The push to modernize was initiated by Nicole and Alana’s grandfather, Irvin Feld, who founded the company. When they bought the Ringling Bros. Circus in 1969, the biggest name in big tops had been on the decline since the 1950s. Inspired by his background in rock concert promotion, Feld moved the circus from its traditional outdoor tents to indoor arenas. He also did away with the three-ring format that forced audiences to divide their attention between simultaneous live acts.
While other children dreamed of running away to join the circus, the Feld sisters were already there. Third generation circus folk, Nicole and Alana have a lot of respect for the Ringling Bros. name and tradition. Both were a part of the show throughout their childhoods, playing circus clowns.
“Every December we would go to Florida, where we rehearse the new shows” says Feld, “but our father also insisted we pursue our own careers.” After attending NYU, working for People magazine, and taking up an interest in photography, Nicole Feld rejoined her family and the circus. You can take the girl out of the big top, but you can’t take the big top out of the girl.