Are dragons real?
Circus ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson would like people to at least entertain the possibility.
"I don't want to act so arrogant to believe that we know all the answers. The universe we live is in abounding," said Iverson. In fact, he said, there might already be proof out there that dragons exist and the public hasn't gotten wind of it yet. Scientists are "always arguing about something they just filter it out to us," he said.
So why all the fire-breathing contemplation?
"It's a universally revered myth," said Iverson, star of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' new show, Dragons, which comes to Lexington this weekend with a showcase to the mythical (or are they?) creatures. Iverson even gets to sing a song with the line, "Do you have the dragon in you?"
The pretense for the three-ring extravaganza is that in the show, teams from around the world are competing in "dragon games" for the chance to battle the beasts.
"There are some really fantastic acts to illuminate the theme," Iverson said. That would include tiger tamers, high-flying trapeze artists, martial artists from China, and a horseback-riding troupe from Russia.
Such skilled groups are important but Iverson got philosophical in talking about the circus' attraction for people. The circus, like dragons, taps into a deep part of the human consciousness that dwells on what is real and what isn't, he said.
"There is something that pulls beyond our flesh," he said. "There is something spiritually happening that touches us deeply in (encountering) living art.
"People will never admit this," he said, "but let's just be real: Death is always in attendance" at a circus.
People, he said, are coming to be awed, they are "coming to see miracles."
He said Ringling respects that idea: "We respect your time and money and imagination." The circus, he said, "is more than a product, it is a spiritual high."
What could be more intriguing than dragons? So will the audience actually see dragons in the show? Iverson plays coy, saying his sidekick claims to see dragons throughout the show. The public, he said, "will have to pay for their ticket."
For his part, he said, he's happy to be along for the ride. "I see myself as a glorified fan, who gets paid to really dress well and be part of a spectacular show."
IF YOU GO
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: 'Dragons'
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 6; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Sept. 7; 1 and 5 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St., Lexington
Tickets: $15, $10 and $25 for arena seats, $35 for VIP, $45 for front row, $80 for "celebrity" front-row center seats. Available at (859) 233-3535 or Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.
Learn more: Rupparena.com, Ringling.com
■ All Access Pre-Show: One hour before showtime, see animals up close, visit with performers, get autographs, try on costumes, and more. Open to all ticket holders.
■ Elephant Brunch: Watch the circus elephants eat a lavish meal before their first performance. Noon Sept. 6. Rupp Arena back lot. Free.