By Michele Deluca
Niagara Gazette — When dare devil Nik Wallenda was stepping so carefully along the wire over Niagara Falls two years ago, his younger cousin Lyric Wallenda, now 30, was among family members watching the feat and holding their breath.
The aerialist inspired many people with his conviction and his courage, and among them was Lyric, who hopes one day to try to reach her own version of what some might consider impossible dreams.
Lyric, who along with her mother Rietta, will perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Jan. 25, is among the 40 or so members of the Wallenda family who make their home in Sarasota, where her great grandfather, legendary circus performer Karl Wallenda eventually settled.
She is a seventh generation Wallenda, a direct descendent of Karl, which is a matter of pride to those in the family who choose to work in the family’s business of wire walking and daring aerial stunts. The act she will perform with her mother in Buffalo, in a production called Cirque Musica, has been performed by several generations of Wallendas. “My great grandmother performed it with her sisters,” Lyric said. “The apparatus and tricks we do is close to what my great grandmother did.”
During a portion of the show, Lyric will be hanging from at the top of an 11-foot long pole by a foot loop while holding her mother by the hand and do a variety of tricks. “We finish the act with me spinning her by her neck,” she said.
The program will include with a variety of circus performers, produced to a special selection of music that includes favorite pop songs and classic’s such as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Among the performers is Lyric’s husband, Simon Arestov, a second generation performer from the Moscow Circus.
Lyric and Simon recently bought a home in Sarasota, where they plan to settle and begin a family, Lyric said. Asked wether she would like her children to choose a dare devil profession, she said, “I would love to see them do what I do and carry on the traditions from my husband and myself and our families. I have a great passion for my work. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
The performance will be directed by Matthew Kraemer, the Pops conductor for the BPO.
He will be the only one in the music hall who will not be able to see the acrobatics, as he will be conducting the full orchestra through a score which includes many different favorites including Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, the Beetles and John Williams who wrote the music for “Star Wars” and “Superman.”
Even with his back to all the twisting, turning and hanging from the ceiling, Kraemer will enjoy the show vicariously as he directs the BPO. “I have seen the show. It’s fascinating how you can turn a music hall into a circus tent.”
Meanwhile, as Lyric, her mom and her husband, prepare for their visit, the 30-year-old cousin of Nic Wallenda imagines that someday, she too, might get the world to stop and watch her aerial daring.
When asked if she would ever consider a challenge as big as crossing Niagara Falls on a wire, she said “Yes, I do and hopefully soon.”
“It may be something not as big as Niagara Falls or the grand canyon right away, but I’d like to start with something smaller and work my way up.”
IF YOU GO --
WHAT: Cirque Musica, with mother and daughter team Rietta and Lyric Wallenda and other circus performers WHEN: 8 p.m. Jan. 25 WHERE: Kleinhan's Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo MORE INFORMATION: Tickets are $28 to $76. Visit bpo.org for more details or call the box office at 885-5000