The tent-raising of Circus Vargas started at 10 a.m. Tuesday in a Westfield Valencia Town Center parking lot, as workers put down stakes and raised the fabric to assemble the 20,000-square-foot tent.
This was all in anticipation of the circus that will perform this week, said co-owner and executive vice president Katya Quiroga.
This year, the circus will feature flying trapeze acts, handstand contortions, tightrope performances and trampoline gymnastics, said Mariella Quiroga, a performer in the show.
The circus’ theme changes annually, and this year it will center around pirates, with the cast decked out in different costumes from pirates to mermaids and various other characters, said Mariella, who performs handstand contortions and trapeze acts.
“We all play different characters in the show,” she said. “And for two hours, we try to make sure there’s a storyline, and that the acts are interesting.”
Mariella, 20, is Katya Quiroga’s daughter and is an eighth-generation circus performer, she said. Katya and her husband, Nelson, have owned Circus Vargas for 12 years, and Mariella began practicing when she was six.
Circus artists travel with other shows as well and contract with different circuses, so Mariella has performed with various other companies that tour Europe, South America and other international locations.
Now she’s in the family business of Circus Vargas, where most of the 22 performers in the company are also generational performers. The younger performers have on-set teachers in the company, and Mariella is currently enrolled in an online college while she performs 40 weeks out of the year.
“We do about 30 cities in 40 weeks,” she said. “And we do about 10 shows a week. Many performers here are born into it like me, and our parents and grandparents have been teaching us tricks since we were kids. It’s a different lifestyle. But some of the performers here also went to circus school to learn tricks before they came to our company.”
Mariella recommends guests arrive early for the pre-show, scheduled half an hour before the regular two-hour show begins, where younger children can meet performers and learn about the different tricks displayed.
The circus will be opening Thursday to Oct. 29. Showtimes can be found at CircusVargas.com. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office at the performance an hour in advance.