Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just Wondering out Loud

The photo above is off the Ringling web site. Click it and it takes you somewhere. I don't recognize the girl on the elephant and don't know if it is a "doctored" picture or not, but I do know the blankets are from the 1984-1985 tour. The photo below is from 1984 and the beautiful lady on the elephant is Cindy Dodge who was killed in a fall. Cindy joined the Greatest Show on Earth as a Dancer/Showgirl. She like many of us, had a dream to be a performer with Ringling Bros. She trained very devotedly for two years with Flying Act greats, Armando and Anna Farfan and developed a beautiful trapeze act, which she auditioned for Irvin Feld, and was awarded a two year contract. Irvin, was known for encouraging development from within his organization, which is something that the Great British Circus may look into. Along with the pride of performing on the Greatest Show on Earth, came the constant training to become better and better. At the conclusion of the 1984 tour the show closed in Naussa, New York that year, and when an act was given a new contract, Irvin always, and was justified in asking, for something new, aerial, ground, and animal acts. The last week end we had what is known as a "six-pack" or 3 show's a day for two day's. Cindy was practicing between the 5th and 6th show of the second 3 show day when she slipped and fell to the floor, and was declared dead, late that night when her parents had the life support machines shut off. It is kind of a shame Ringling could not have used her picture on their website, as a way of remembering the dedication of an American girl who became a circus performer with America's Greatest Circus.

Recently a show, due to heavy demand had to schedule a 4th show. The cast was called together and informed that an extra show had been added. The next week when they went to get their salary, there was an extra $20.00 in each envelope!!!!! I have mentioned salaries a number of times(nobody else has, as it is taboo like 95% of real circus history) and it kind of makes you wonder what a life is worth, or a career ending injury. A mention of the $20.00 was made on the "history channel" and a useless anonymous had this to say: "We should all be happy to not be paying 4.00 bucks a gallon for diesel and have some hope of working this year!!!" There is a dark underbelly of the industry that has been glossed over with spangles and bright lights through it's history. In an earlier thread, there was mention of the difficulty of getting act's into England to work. Traditionally as hard with the American Circus was getting a job, with most taken up by foreign performers, as "they were cheaper." I fear the circus performer has relegated themselves to "migrant labor," in a "with it and for it effort."


Stacy said...

Cindy Dodge was my cousin... thank you for posting her picture and for your kind words.

Wade G. Burck said...

Welcome to circusnospin. Cindy was my ex-wife's best friend, so I was especially close to her. A more dedicated, hard working performer you will never find. She was part of an aerial display that included the great Mark David with his cloud swing. Cindy and Mark are just two of so many examples of circus greatness, that came from the "outside/real world," and against all bias and discrimination achieved something special. There are so many folk's like Cindy, towners or townies as the industry refers to them who excelled, that the claim to "circus royalty" is an antiquated, irrelevant statement, that only has relevance in 18th century circus history.

Cindy's Mom said...

Remembering so vividly Cindy on the 30th anniversary of her death, I was searching for references to her on the internet. Thank you for writing about her and her devotion to her performing. Since she was 5 years old, she loved to dance and perform. We lost so much when she died. Thank you for remembering and telling others of her beauty and dedication.
Her mom and dad.

Cindy;s mom said...

It was in 1984 that Cindy died; so it has not been quite 30 years. Time has a way of running together. Sometimes it just feels like forever that she has been gone.

Wade G. Burck said...

Cindy's Mom,
Yes, it was in 1984 at the Nassau Coliseum. I have often thought it a shame that one of the two circus museums, either Circus World Museum in Baraboo or the Hall of Fame in Peru didn't have an area honoring first generation performer's, towners, who either died or were killed while performing in the circus. They tend to get forgotten as no one is left to carry on their legacy.

Kind Regards to you both,


Victoria Williams said...

Dear Cindy’s Mom & Dad, Family & Friends,

I was so happy to see your posts here about Cindy and I hope this message finds you all well. Believe it or not, my family and I were the only four “spectator” witnesses to Cindy’s accident. My parents, my nephew, and myself (10 yrs old at that time), were at that December 2, 1984 show and had stayed past so my nephew (2 yrs old) could sleep and my dad could “reverse” beat the traffic by staying until everyone else had left the stadium. We watched Cindy in awe as she practiced and in shock and disbelief as she tragically fell. Up until that moment, I hadn’t even realized there wasn’t a net. We were all very worried about the fallen trapeze girl and wondered about it all night. My mother, the ever-compassionate soul, kept vigil, scouring for updates in the newspapers for days and was heartbroken when she heard the terrible news of her passing. She kept the articles and a picture of Cindy FRAMED in her bedroom for years and still to this day, can produce, without hesitation, the name “Cindy Dodge” whenever we ask “What was the trapeze girl’s name again?” Having just recalled the incident with her again as we were planning a trip to NYC and hearing her again wonder out-loud about her family (Cindy’s mom in particular) and how they must be doing, I decided to “google” her name to see if I could find any postings from friends or family. I found what I was hoping for on this site. I gave it to my mom the very next day and she was absolutely elated. She had this to say:

Dear Cindy’s Mom,
I am finally getting to say to you, from the very depth of my heart – I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious, wonderfully talented, daughter.
I was introduced to the “Blog” – “No Spin Zone” while riding on the Long Island Railroad into New York City to celebrate my birthday. The words you presented were an unforgettable gift. Your daughter has never left my mind and I have always felt sympathy for you – her mom. I know your heart was broken.
My husband and I, brought my daughter,Vikki,and grandson, Christopher, to see the circus – every child’s greatest joy, dream, and unforgettable memory. My grandson fell asleep in my arms at the finale of the show. We decided to let him sleep until the entire audience left.
An absolutely high-spirited, young girl appeared to practice her trapeze artistry – your lovely Cindy – such passion, devotion, and visual beauty which was mesmerizing – making us feel honored to be the only audience at that moment in time as the coliseum appeared to be totally empty when Cindy fell from the trapeze. Within minutes, we were approached by a polite gentleman asking us to please leave the building. We arrived at our vehicle as an ambulance was leaving for the hospital with lights flashing while being escorted by a police car.
I kept the newspaper articles and have often wondered about you and the rest of her family many times throughout the years. You certainly must feel so proud to be Cindy’s mom. She set a good example for many children. I’m certain there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t see her in your mind. That will keep your gorgeous Cindy in your heart forever.
I do hope that one day I’ll see a book written by your family and friends on the beautiful life of a Ringling Bros Circus trapeze artist that left silently but will never be forgotten. The upcoming 30th anniversary is a great year to honor your daughter at Ringling Bros (Channel 12 would be a good source of support.)

God Bless you all. <3

Dee Williams
67 Irish Lane
East Islip, NY 11730

Wade G. Burck said...

From Tina Gebel,

hi wade, i stumbled across the spinzone this evening and will tell you I was stunned! I started out with google trying to find something on the Internet about Cindi Dodge! Wow is all I can say! I have NEVER stopped thinking about her, and have wanted to touch base with her Mom for a long time,,,,,hard to believe its been 30 yrs...seems like yesterday to me. When the train arrived in Venice I went to her room and packed all her things! brought them to a storage place and gave Tim H. the keys, dont know what happened after that! It would be really nice if I could connect with her family. Many thanks, Tina

Anonymous said...

Cindy's Mom;
I went to high school with Cindy. I didn't know her well but I always thought she was so beautiful. I remember when her accident happened and it was so sad. I am so sorry for your loss. As time goes by we just get used to them not being there and carrying on the best we can. Bless you Cindy's mom and dad.

Aerialist Writer said...

Hi. I was so happy to have found this blog post, as I have been researching Cindy Dodge for about a year now. I am a writer, and I have been trying to write an essay about Cindy. If anyone who has left a comment here or anyone at all who knew or was touched by Cindy would be willing to answer some questions by email or phone, I would greatly appreciate it. There is very little written about her, and I was captivated by her story.

My email is Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

May 22, 2017

I attended the Circus on Saturday, May 20th and again on Sunday, May 21st. It seemed surreal that the Final Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Show would be where Cindy Dodge performed her Final Show. She is not forgotten. I chose a seat that faced the ring where Cindy would've performed her Aerial Act so many years ago. I worked with her as a Red Unit Showgirl, we still performed on the Spanish Web back then. Cindy had a smile that dazzled the audience. She sparkled when she performed and exuded a radiance that reached the highest seats in any Arena. Her light will never go out. I said a silent prayer as I sat in the seat facing where Cindy would've been performing .... then I felt a little chill .... No, she will NEVER be forgotten. The show is over, the spotlights are off but Cindy's radiant light will shine on and on.