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Monday, June 2, 2014

Circus Flora's "The Pawn" Makes All the Right Moves

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Page 2 of 2

The Green Knight prepares for his next move.
  • The Green Knight prepares for his next move.

4. Animals will do anything to win.

When it comes to animals and chess, many people immediately think of the horse used to represent knight, but other animals also can play pivotal roles in the game. In The Pawn, the Green Rook uses five Jack Russell Terriers to scheme his way across the board, imploring the pups to literally jump through hoops to try to attain a position of power. The Green Knight also mounts an ambitious attack, somersaulting and back-flipping over a sword as his horse gallops around the ring. But it's the Red Knight who conquers both, commanding six beautiful, rare Pied camels at once and even getting a kiss from lead camel Pasha.

5. Despite their low caste, pawns can help decide the match.

As the production's namesake, the Green Pawn is part of much of the Circus Flora action. The cheeky fellow combines the antics of Charlie Chaplain with the cunning of a grand champion as he juggles multicolored derby hats, balances nearly twenty blocks and suffers the whims of the other characters. His fortitude helps him traverse the chessboard, but not before teams of Red and Green Pawns battle it out in dramatic fashion. These daring kids and teenagers, members of the youth circus troupe from St. Louis' Circus Harmony performance school, form human pyramids, flip through the air and easily swing each other around the ring to gain control of the board.

The Flying Wallendas make their way across the high wire.
  • The Flying Wallendas make their way across the high wire.

6. A good endgame trumps a checkmate.

No matter which team wins or loses, it's the final sequence that truly determines a game's worth. The chess match under Circus Flora's tent goes out on a high note with trapeze troupe the Flying Cortes taking to the air with dramatic "Wonder Woman"-style music accompanying every move. The acrobatic family easily flips from one trapeze to the other, sometimes swinging high enough to touch the roof or sides of the big top before dropping into the net below and gracefully springing back up -- toes pointed, always -- as if they were on a trampoline. From start to finish, the endgame is remarkably thrilling and has plenty of awe-inspiring moves to stack for a glorious checkmate.

Circus Flora's The Pawn runs through June 22 in the lot behind Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information, visit

Follow Allison Babka on Twitter at @ambabka. Email the author at

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