Popovitch's Pet Theater To Perform At Palm
Above is a snippet of the Popovitch Pet Theater act, which will perform at the Palm Theatre Sunday Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.; the show is for all ages and is a benefit for Wags and Menace Foundation in support of animal shelters.
When Gregory Popovitch moved to the U.S. from his Russian homeland, he was a gold medal juggler who had been scouted by the Ringling Brothers Barhum & Bailey Circus. Only a world-class juggler could manage his life these days: Popovitch's act includes 14 cats and 10 dogs, trained to perform with him, that he takes on tour in a special custom trailer when they are not at home in Las Vegas.
How long has he been doing this? "All my life," says Popovitch. "I was born in a circus family. My mom and Dad worked in the circus. For me it was normal, this style of working with the pets."
Soon after he came to the U.S. to join the circus, he decided to strike out on his own and put together an act with animals. His friends here told him he should recruit his pets from the animal shelter and he's had great success with the animals he's rescued. In all his years and with all his dogs and cats, he says he's only been bitten a couple of times. "Sometimes, they've had a bad experience before. But once we build a connection and they relax and trust, they never bite."
Popovitch's act also includes acrobatics, juggling and physical comedy, but the pets are a special element. The secret to their training, says Popovitch, is to use build the skits around the personality or natural behavior of the animal. (A lazy dog, for instance, plays a character who will not move or respond.) Not just that, but also giving them a lot of love. "They're like my family. And right now there are so many of them that I have to divide my attention between all of them or else they will fight—just like a family," says Popovitch.
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