“Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands.”—Bob Dylan.
“I told my mom I was going to runaway and join the circus . . . and then I did,” said Alina Stasik, with a laugh, explaining her life-long love affair with horses and performing. The Washington State Horse Expo, March 6–8, 2020, at the Clark County Event Center, Ridgefield, WA, will feature beautiful horses, nationally ranked horse trainers, an Equine Marketplace, kid concentric activities—and Alina with her horse Bubba, a professional theatrical circus performing duo.
According to Alina, the first time she saw tricks performed on a horse as a young girl she knew then and there exactly what she was going to do when she grew up. She started western trick and stunt riding at the age of seven in her hometown of Golden, Colorado, where she trained at the Red Top Ranch under Karen Vold, Linda Scholtz, and Mellissa Pfaff. She went pro at the age of fourteen, performing in rodeos across the country. At the age of 17, she ran away to join the circus and changed to the more traditional form of trick riding known as Cossack with stops along the way performing with the world famous Cavalia Odysseo tour where she blended awe-inspiring equestrian arts with amazing acrobatic feats.
Recruited by circus owner Olissio Zoppe, Alina joined Cirque Ma’Ceo, a traveling circus that specializes in theatrical equine performing arts. Led by the ninth generation circus bareback rider Zoppe, Ma’Ceo combines modern routines at the same time preserving styles of riding that have amazed audiences for hundreds of years.
“We are a family,” said Alina. “We work, eat and play together. From pitching the big tent to selling tickets and concessions, we all work on every aspect of putting on the show. And I love it.
“Live entertainment is so intimate. But it is dying slowly, less shows and fewer people coming out. It is my goal to do my best to keep the art alive and to share its wonder and beauty with everyone I meet,” she said.
According Alina, at the heart of the circus is our animals. “Doesn’t matter how tired I am, my horses are going to be comfortable and taken care of long before I take a break,” said Alina. It’s not just her animals. Alina says she picks up watermelon and carrots, the circus elephant’s favorite treats, whenever she is at a store. “I love watching her enjoy a special treat. Our animals give so much joy to us; it is a privilege to give some back.”
Of course there are her horses, both past and present, that have been with her every step of her journey. From retired Flash, a Paint/Arab cross and Checkmate, a Medicine Hat Paint to her current performing partners Bubba, a Halflinger/Draft cross and Zanthos, a Friesian cross—the horses are Alina’s first love.
“Bubba is a superstar,” said Alina. “He loves to perform and actually gets a little depressed on his days off.” She went on to explain with laugh. “I love him to death but he defiantly has a mischievous side. He always finds a way to get loose. So far he comes and finds me as if to say ha-ha, I did it again.
But I live in fear of the time he might get loose and get hurt.” “He is the star of our act and he knows it,” said Alina. It’s possible that he gets more fan mail (and social media) than Alina. “No matter where I go, whether it is a clinic or demo, people always ask about Bubba first.” Coming up fast on his heels is Alina’s newest horse Zanthos.
“I like having two horses. It allows me to give each one more rest, which is good for both their minds and bodies,” explained Alina.
Zanthos has been quite a pleasant surprise. Coming to her with not the best of reputations, he has turned out to be quite a natural at Liberty work.
“I have always been interested in doing Liberty work but wanted to focus less on multiple horses and more on difficult movements while at liberty. For instance, Dressage (horse dancing) moves like Passage and Piaffe and the Spanish Walk,” said Alina.
Traveling 9-months of the year, Ma’ Ceo is on their winter break and Alina has brought Bubba and Zanthos to Oregon to winter over.
Alice Heller, co-show producer of the Washington State Horse Expo, said “That is great news for us. “Bubba and Alina were show stoppers last year and we can’t wait to showcase them again this year.”
Listed under “Can’t Miss” Events on the www.washingtonstatehorseexpo.com Alina and Bubba will be performing throughout all three days of the Expo and headlining the Saturday Night Extravaganza (ticketed separately.)
In addition to performing death defying tricks, including vaulting, roman riding and amazing acrobatics on a horse, Alina will pull back the curtain and show how she does the tricks and how she trains Bubba to help her.
Alina and Bubba have watermelon and carrots for everyone: from people who love watching horses from afar, to serious equestrians; from the young to the old; to everyone in between.Get your advance discount tickets February 3rd thru March 5th at participating Wilco Stores and Online.