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April 16, 2014

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The jugglers, acrobats and slack wire walkers of Circus Circus

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Leila Navidi

Jason Xiao performs on the Rolla Bola at the Circus Circus Midway in Las Vegas on Thursday, August 2, 2012.

Wooden bleachers shake as parents walk their children to find seats at the Circus Circus Midway. A drummer and keyboardist take their places in front of the raised stage.

"Ladies and gentleman," a ringmaster’s voice booms.

Every half hour from 11 a.m. to midnight every day, one of 12 circus acts takes the stage. They juggle, dance on tightropes and flip from trapezes. They come from all over the world to perform at one of the oldest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Who are the artists? Here's a closer look at four of them:

    • Circus Circus - Duo Joys

      Magdalena Cyran and Tom Smiela of Poland, also known as the Launch slideshow »

      Duo Joys

      Acrobats Magda Cyran and Tom Smiela turned world-class athletic careers into a professional circus act.

      The husband-and-wife team began competing in gymnastics in Warsaw, Poland, when she was 9 and he was 14. They won six Polish national championships and nine world and European medal championships between them.

      Now they performing as the Duo Joys with strength and balancing acrobatics, including a hand balancing act.

      They first signed with Circus Circus in 2001 for two years, then returned again in 2009.

    • Circus Circus - Evgeny Vasilenko

      Slack wire artist Evgeny Vasilenko of Russia performs at the Midway at Circus Circus Thursday, August 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

      Evgeny Vasilenko

      Unlike tightrope walkers, Evgeny Vasilenko performs on a slack wire, which bobs and sways under his weight.

      He learned the skill from his father when he was 10, then studied at the Russian National Circus School, where he majored in slack wire.

      In 2002, he joined Nikulin's Old Moscow Circus and traveled across Europe and Asia before landing at Circus Circus.

    • Raul Cubillos

      Juggler Raul Cubillos began performing at 8, the fifth generation of an Argentinean circus family. He began traveling internationally at 18 and made performing at Circus Circus his goal.

      He has worked at the midway for two years.

    • Circus Circus - Skating Ernestos and Rolla Bola

      The Skating Ernestos, Veronika and Paolo Ernesto, a roller skating duo from Italy perform at the Circus Circus Midway in Las Vegas on Thursday, August 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

      Jason Xiao

      Jason Xiao combines hat juggling and bowl manipulation in a balancing act that leaves audiences gasping.

      Xiao balances on a board atop a rolling cylinder called a Rolla bolla. He places bowls one at a time on the end of the board and flips it up, catching them on his head.

      He is a third-generation circus performer who also worked as a strength acrobat and clown.

      Before landing at Circus Circus last year, Xiao performed with Cirque du Soleil and the Matsuri show at Imperial Palace.

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