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

Lords of the rings

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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

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