The Flying Wallendas Perform to Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”

by Sampsonia Way    /  January 18, 2012  / 1 Comment

Jazz Poetry 2011

On September 10th City of Asylum/Pittsburgh hosted its seventh annual Jazz Poetry Concert. Writers from Burma, Finland, Russia, and Palestine read to a packed theater, and music was performed by Oliver Lake and the jazz trio Tarbaby. Halfway through the concert, the audience was treated to a surprise wire-walking performance by The Flying Wallendas.

Flying Wallendas

The Flying Wallendas performing at JazzPoetry 2011

The Wallenda family has been performing circus acts for as far back as 1780 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1928 the troupe received acclaim for performing without a net in Madison Square Garden and has continued the tradition since then. There are eleven members of the current troupe; however three performed at the Jazz Poetry concert: Tino Wallenda, a sixth generation circus performer, and two of his children, Aurelia and Alessandro. Of their work, Tino Wallenda told Sampsonia Way, “We are performers at heart, and the show does go on, not because it’s a performance but because it’s life, and life does go on.”

While the trio performed, a recording of Salman Rushdie reading from his 2000 novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet played. This reading was recorded at PEN America‘s annual PEN World Voices Festival. Oliver Lake and Tarbaby accompanied The Flying Wallendas with a freestyle jazz performance.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

One Comment on "The Flying Wallendas Perform to Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”"

  1. David Semak January 27, 2012 at 11:43 pm ·

    I met Tino Wallenda a couple years ago while in a drug rehab center, he gave us a great performance. Knowing that we were recovering people Tino gave us an unforgettable, inspiring speech. I still replay what I heard.

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