BRAZIL: Reddest Show on Earth

"Bee-eep, bee-eep, bee-eep," piped the loudspeakers of Rio's Little Maracana sport stadium one evening last week. From overhead, a glittering crystal Sputnik twirled down, antennas spinning, lights blinking. Spotlights glared as it landed, picked out a sequin-spangled man and woman dangling from it. The couple waved, the crowd applauded, and a troupe of animal trainers, tumblers, clowns and acrobats raced into the arena to applaud back. As the Sputnik beeped back into orbit among the rafters, the famed Moscow circus cut loose with its spectacular show for the first time in the Western Hemisphere.

On came Karandash, Russia's greatest clown,...

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