Circus XTREME Lady Cannonball NITRO NICOLE
The Greatest Show on Earth is NOW in Houston – Summer 2016
by Bernadette Verzosa
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey presents Circus XTREME
NRG Stadium, July 14 – 31, 2016
CLICK HERE for the FULL SHOW SCHEDULE & to PURCHASE TICKETS
Not many people on our planet Earth can list a profession as a ‘human cannonball.’ 31-year-old Nicole Sanders is one of the rare few. Born in Maryland, raised in Alabama, she joined the circus after graduating from Loyola University in Louisiana.
Sanders is now performing as NITRO NICOLE, the woman who shoots out of the 24-foot long cannon at Circus XTREME presented by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. “It’s a lot of adrenalin so I have to calm myself down when I slide into the cannon and the ringmaster counts down,” she says. “I tighten everything and mentally prepare. It’s super quick, it’s zero to 66 miles per hour within seconds.” The cannon catapults Sanders up to 50 feet high in the solo act.
“I love performing and I wanted to give this a shot while my body is still capable of it. I am very disciplined with training and resting and watching my intake. I eat a lot of protein and greens, limiting carbs. For injury prevention, I warm up properly and stretch. I get lots of sleep so my muscles recover,” she says.
Sanders is one of more than 100 performers touring with Circus XTREME. They present shows across the United States, traveling by train that’s custom-made by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.
“We have our own mini apartments on the train. At first, my parents were hesitant when I told them I was joining the circus. They want me to be safe and successful. Since they’ve seen my act, they have become very supportive and tickled. They brag to their friends. In an elevator, my dad managed to tell strangers that I get shot out of a cannon. People are usually flabbergasted and genuinely surprised,” she says.
Sanders enjoys the diversity of the circus performers who represent 13 countries including Brazil, Australia, Morocco, Mongolia, Spain, Russia and the Ukraine. Circus XTREME features many popular acts: Taba and the majestic Bengal tigers, the Danguir High-Wire Troupe, Freestyle BMX, Art on Trampoline acrobats, Robert Stipka and two-humped Bactrian camels, Alex & Irina and their poodles, elegant aerialists and funny clowns.
“People have stereotypes and misconceptions about the circus. I love it. I love the aspect of community,” Sanders says. It’s a harder life. It’s hard to have a social life with the athlete aspect of it – the rest and training after work and after the show.”
MESSAGE TO CHILDREN & GIRLS
Sanders recommends that families come out and enjoy the circus experience, especially in this age of electronics. “These days with technology and social media, kids are glued to iPads and iPhones. This is a nice relief from that. It’s live entertainment with singers singing the whole time. Witnessing people doing amazing feats is great,” she says.
Sanders considers her image in this high-profile act as a huge reponsibility. “I feel honored to be a female cannonball. I can be a role model for young girls and boys. The cannon is so empowering and thrilling. A little girl can see me and can say I am strong and courageous and I can do anything I want.”