Good luck finding dancing shoes that fit these happy hoofers.
Video of two Circus World Museum elephants swaying to a violinist’s rendition of Bach swept the globe Tuesday. It was featured on the “Today” show and “Good Morning America,” and was picked up by news websites around the world.
“I had no idea this would be the response,” said the violinist, Eleanor Bartsch of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
The orchestra performed private shows at Circus World last weekend. Musicians noticed Viola and Kelly, a pair of 11,500-pound pachyderms, moving to the music in their paddock outside the Baraboo historic site’s hippodrome.
Between shows, Bartsch strolled over to play Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor” for them. “I decided to experiment and see what those guys would do,” she said.
Her sister Alice, a fellow violinist in the orchestra, shot video. Bartsch shared the video on her Facebook page and then, at the request of friends, posted it on YouTube. “That’s when it kind of started blowing up,” she said.
“From there it reverberated around the world,” Circus World executive director Scott O’Donnell said.
The video appeared on the websites of British newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Mirror, as well as American sites operated by AOL and the New York Daily News.
The public’s astonishment at the elephants’ moves caught Circus World staff off guard. The animals move constantly, and it’s not unusual to spot them reacting to music.
“They’re light on their feet,” O’Donnell said. “They are awesomely cool.”
Bartsch said she was inundated with calls and messages from friends Tuesday. “It’s been a fun whirlwind of a day,” she said.
The elephants’ handler, Chip Arthurs, also fielded calls and text messages all day about his girls’ newfound celebrity. “I didn’t think it would go as far as it did,” he said. “If we can get some more people here to Circus World, let’s do it.”
Circus World’s summer performance season winds down this week, so there’s little opportunity to capitalize on the elephants’ sudden fame. Given the public’s enthusiastic reception of the video, might an elephant dance-off be in store next season?
“It’s something we’d like to explore for the future, for sure,” O’Donnell said with a smile.
“At least they have a refined ear.”
Arthurs said he had no idea Viola, 45; and Kelly, 44; would enjoy Bach. The Alabama native typically plays classic rock for them. “I think they prefer Lynyrd Skynyrd,” he said.