Lifting his spirits

Last modified: 12/30/2014 10:19:04 AM
The Peterborough Town House was filled near to capacity with ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages on Saturday, there to view acrobats, tumblers, jugglers and aerialists — and to support the man that taught many of the artists on stage and flying through the air their craft: Rick Davis of Temple.

Through his work with the Vermont-based Circus Smirkus, and with his wife, Jackie Davis, and their Silver Linings Circus camp, Davis has been teaching circus arts to children for decades. On Saturday, many of his former students, some of whom are now professional circus performers, returned to the region to support Davis in his time of need. In October, Davis was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer. The show on Saturday served as a fundraiser for the Davis couple, to help them offset medical costs and support the family while Davis is unable to work.

The first show alone raised around $5,000, with around 400 people coming out in support, according to Sara Greene of Antrim, the founder of the Granite State Circus, who organized the performers for the show. The show had to come together quickly, said Greene, with many of the performers driving in from other states or Canada to appear, and there was no time for even a run-through of the show before it went live. Despite that, everything went off without a hitch, said Greene.

“It’s a testament to the community here,” said Greene. “I can’t imagine anywhere else where you could just put on a show like that without any rehearsal and have it go as well as it did.”

In an interview Monday, Davis, who attended the show, said, “It was an overwhelmingly beautiful night.”

The show had a theme of “giving love,” with a running gag of one performer desperately trying to sell or give away hearts to an increasingly exasperated ringmaster and laughing audience. It was a sentiment that hit Davis hard, he said.

“The main emotion I felt, I guess — or really, I know — is love. We have received so much love through well wishes, letters, emails, cards, gifts, people coming to our door, help. But when we saw the performers performing at the show, it made me realize what’s really important about love is not just getting it. The most important thing about love is giving it. When I saw those performers performing, I was seeing the results of what Jackie and I gave them out of love, many years ago.”

Love was not in short supply that night, said Davis. David Graham, who performed a balancing act with his partner Tobin Renwick, addressed Davis directly before their act, saying that the Davises had given himself and Renwick a “spark of inspiration,” and telling Davis, “It’s our wish that this show tonight can give back a spark of joy and strength.”

And that didn’t only come from the performers, said Davis. He said when he looked around the packed Town House, he was constantly picking out people from all of his and Jackie’s “worlds” — people from his own circus days with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, people from their teaching days, church members, members of the Lion’s Club Davis belongs to, friends from community theater and community opera performances and Temple neighbors.

“I was collecting hugs all night long,” said Davis.

Davis is currently undergoing radiation therapy to shrink five tumors in his brain, which is leaving him severely fatigued, to the point that getting up after sitting for awhile is difficult, he said. Other than that, he said, “I’m tolerating the treatment very well, and I’m not suffering any debilitating side effects.” Psychologically and spiritually, he said, he is feeling positive and optimistic, partly as a result of the immense support he’s received from his wife and all of the communities he’s a part of.

Greene said that in addition to a regular touring schedule for Granite State Circus, she would like to turn the fundraiser into a tradition, to give to a needy organization or identified family or individual every year. Greene will also be taking over part of Davis’s current duties with Circus Smirkus. Davis will continue as the organization’s school residency director, but will no longer be going into schools to give instruction in circus arts, which used to be a large part of his job, he said. Greene has agreed to become a new resident to take over that portion of Davis’s duties.

A second Granite State Circus show in support of Rick Davis will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the Amato Center in Milford. Tickets are available at the Toadstool, online at www.granitestatecircus.com or at at the door. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students or seniors. To donate to the Davis family, visit www.crowdrise.com/rickdavishipreplacement.



Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.


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