Or Oppenheimer ’14 and Ron Oppenheimer ’16 are professional paid circus artists and are upcoming stars in the yet to be released documentary, Bizarre: The Film.
The film will be part portraiture, part performance based and part documentary and is described on the website—which features a large photo of Or juggling—as focusing on the “lives of performers, instructors, and big top lovers working to keep the circus arts alive and thriving in our modern age.” The film was shot with a RED Epic camera and some performances were shot with The Phantom Flex camera, which is capable of capturing 10,750 frames per second.
When asked why Or believes she and her brother were asked to participate in such a groundbreaking documentary, Or shrugs modestly and says, “I think we’re pretty big. They came to our house to interview us.”
Almost everyday after school, the two siblings go to Circus Center on Frederick St. They weight train and practice new tricks, inspired by the community of acrobats that surrounds them. In order to explain this eccentric community, Or talks about her bat mitzvah. “I invited my circus troupe and we took the dancing portion of the party to the next level. We did the whole bat mitzvah dancing on each other’s shoulders.” She laughs, “And the limbo is usually fun except when you have contortionists playing, it’s less fun.”
The passion and creativity that circus requires does not detract from its athletic intensity. Ron describes the injuries he has had to overcome as being “broken bones, hyper-extended knees and more.” Or shows me the striped calluses that line her arm from training with straps and describes the feeling of doing ropes and tissue as being “a combination of excitement in knowing that you can do it and then being careful so that you don’t drop 30 feet.”
Or, who once did pull ups for an hour a day for three months straight in order to master a new circus apparatus, believes that circus is
focused. Winning the second set (7-5), a third set was in order. Both energy and emotions were running high. The wind picked up and caused the ball to bounce unpredictably. The match went into the second hour of play. The third set turned into an intense battle, but ultimately Lick pulled out the W; Lupe and Julia won the third set (6-4).
“definitely a sport because it’s very difficult and requires a lot of training and strength.”
Nancy Churnin in The Dallas Morning News describes circus as being “the art of the impossible. Artists train for years to dazzle, delight and stretch the imagination about what humans— and animals—can do.” This “impossibility” is a testment to the rigor that circus requires.
In fact, there are many cases of Olympic gymnasts joining the circus after their careers hold only the possibility of teaching youth gymnasts. Raj Bhavsar, an American bronze medalist in Artistic Gymnastics, American Paul Bowler and British Terry Bartlett are a few of the Olympic athletes who were seamlessly integrated into Cirque du Soleil after their professional gymnastics careers came to a close.
The next time you wish to be the witness of superb athletic achievement, walk down to Circus Center to see your classmates in action. They are superb athletic artists.