Bringing in the ringers | AspenTimes.com

Bringing in the ringers

Joel Stonington

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

An award-winning contortionist and two people who have earned spots in the Guinness Book of World Records are among those who will perform at Cirque D’Aspen this week.Elayne Kramer, 13, will be twisting her body into impossible shapes while doing one-armed handstands, among other tricks.”I started to practice when I was 3,” Kramer said. “I have a bow and arrow, and I shoot it at a target using my toes.”Kramer is at least a fifth-generation circus performer. Her dad, Coco Kramer, will be clowning around at Cirque D’Aspen, juggling and entertaining people. Another one of the performers is juggler Anthony Gatto. He holds a number of world records, including having juggled eight flaming torches at the same time. His day job is juggling in “V, the Ultimate Variety,” at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. Gatto started out when he was 4 and had his first performance on “That’s Incredible,” a TV show, when he was 8. “I moved to Vegas and started working there when I was 10,” he said. He’ll be juggling balls, rings, clubs, bouncing balls on his head, those sorts of things.There is also a cage and dirt bikes and a high-wire act for the circus, which supports the Aspen Youth Center.”It’s the first time we’ve had a big fundraiser,” said Youth Center Executive Director Sarah Blangsted. “We’re trying to raise $200,000, and I think we’ll make it.”The Aspen Youth Center is a place for kids ages 8-18. Blangsted said the center fills up after school and that it is not uncommon for 60 kids to be there between 3 and 6 p.m. The center offers such programs as a culinary club, a homework room, pingpong table, and plenty of games. There is a board of kids that helps plan activities and helps to run the center.

“It’s a big resource for dual-working families and single parents,” Blangsted said. “Often kids would otherwise be home alone.” Demand has been rising steadily as families and kids find out that it is a good resource. “We’ve had to hire another person to keep up with demand of all the kids,” Blangsted said. “We strive to keep the costs at $2 a day; the fundraiser will help keep that cost down.”The circus will be in the Aspen High School gym today, Thursday and Friday. Tickets are $150 for adults and $75 for kids younger than 12. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7. Concessions will be available. For information, call the Aspen Youth Center at (970) 544-4133. Tickets are available at the Belly Up, http://www.bellyupaspen.com.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com