CIRCUS ARTS

From sideshow secrets to incredible stunts, learn about the magic behind circus arts.
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How Sword Swallowing Works

Sword swallowing is an extremely dangerous trick that doesn't involve illusions. How can it be real? We'll show you -- with explanations and diagrams of the interactions between swords and the upper GI tract. But don't try this at home!

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  • 10 Amazing Circus Families

    10 Amazing Circus Families

    For some, being a circus performer is a job; for others, it is a way of life. Many circus families stretch back seven or eight generations. Who are some of the most storied circus families still under the big top today? See more »

  • Defying Gravity: the Ultimate Human Cannonball Quiz

    Defying Gravity: the Ultimate Human Cannonball Quiz

    Blastoff! Human cannonballs are blood-and-guts bullets that get standing ovations at the end of every show. How much do you really know about these muzzle-scarred heroes? See more »

  • How a Flea Circus Works

    How a Flea Circus Works

    Tiny but mighty, fleas are capable of some pretty amazing feats. How is insectoid strength harnessed for human entertainment? See more »

  • How a Human Cannonball Works

    How a Human Cannonball Works

    A performer slides into a massive cannon barrel and is shot high into the air. She lands safely in a net some distance away, and the crowd goes wild. Who are human cannonballs, and who came up with shooting people out of cannons in the first place? See more »

  • How can adrenaline help you lift a 3,500-pound car?

    How can adrenaline help you lift a 3,500-pound car?

    Some mornings it seems to take superhuman strength just to haul yourself out of bed. So how did adrenaline help these folks bench-press a Camaro or fight off a polar bear with their bare hands? See more »

  • How can someone lie on a bed of nails without getting hurt?

    How can someone lie on a bed of nails without getting hurt?

    In circuses, sideshows and other venues, lying on a bed of nails is an expression of a performer's stamina, bravery and imperviousness to pain. In reality, it's a matter of pressure transference and has been practiced for years around the world. See more »

  • How can someone walk across broken glass without getting hurt?

    How can someone walk across broken glass without getting hurt?

    A magician or street performer walking barefooted across broken glass is a dramatic spectacle. Find out how people can walk across glass without hurting themselves. See more »

  • How Contact Juggling Works

    How Contact Juggling Works

    Watch the ball roll along his arm, around his back, down the other arm and under his palm. You've just seen contact juggling, an ancient practice where the ball stays in constant contact with your body. What's behind its newfound popularity? See more »

  • How Contortionists Work

    How Contortionists Work

    They bend, they twist, they fold themselves into all sorts of strange and unnatural positions. How do contortionists become human pretzels? See more »

  • How do people pull large objects with their teeth?

    How do people pull large objects with their teeth?

    You've seen people pull huge buses or trains with their teeth and other parts of their bodies. How do they do that? See more »

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