'Hair hanging' a rare, painful circus act

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

NEW YORK (AP) -- The eight acrobats who plummeted to the ground during a hair-hanging performance at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus participate in an incredibly painful, highly specialized art.

The accident happened Sunday in Rhode Island when the apparatus they were hanging from fell.

"Hair hanging" is confined to certain families who pass their secrets about the tradition down through generations of performers.

The performers literally hang from the scalp as they fly through the air and perform various tricks. Hair is wrapped around a steel cable ring attached to rigging that hoists the performer upward.

Experts say hair hanging is practiced by less than a dozen circus families around the world, though it has existed for more than a century.

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