High-flying acrobats. Death-defying leaps. Bright lights and performance tents filled with adoring fans. It’s the stuff of which dreams are made. After all, who doesn’t want to run away with the circus?
But for Joe Putignano, it wasn’t as simple as running away — it took a lifetime of dedication and a battle against addiction to get where he is today: dangling from the 40-foot-high catwalk above the Cirque du Soleil big top.
The house lights are off, and one lone spotlight shines upon Joe’s reflective mirror-ball suit.
He is tethered at the waist, head tilted back, arms reaching behind him to grab his foot, which is quickly flexing up toward his head. He starts to spin — literally because that’s what his character is supposed to do, and figuratively, because of the searing pain he’s feeling in both shoulders as he contorts into this position.