It was a windy day, but Ashley Brophy didn't let that stop him. The high-wire walker, dressed in his colourful costume as The Great Brokovski, made his way to the top of the tent of the Great Moscow Circus and began to walk across the highest wire.
It was not a controlled environment. Besides the unpredictability of the wind, there was no safety net and only two men pulling on the cavaletti to keep that guy wire taut as he made his crossing. Brophy knew that if he fell, the tent had hard, sharp poles underneath that would break more than his fall and then he would slide, hard, to the ground.
Halfway across the wire, Brophy sat down. Then he lay down. Then he sat back up and took a selfie. Then he rose to his feet and made his way to the other side, before undertaking the return journey. Then, finally, he came back down to earth.
"That's the first time I've done that on this tour," Brophy said. He turned 50 this year – "I had my 50th birthday on the 50th anniversary of the Great Moscow Circus" – and marked 41 years as a performer. He came from a show business family in Adelaide and over the years has performed many acts in Australia and internationally and holds three world records – for walking 11.5 kilometres in 3.5 hours on a 20-metre high wire, for skipping with a rope 393 consecutive times on a tightrope and becoming the only person to date to walk on a moving tight wire set on a moving float a distance of five kilometres.
Brophy said he was on his second tour as a guest artist with the Great Moscow Circus. He won't be walking quite as high during the show as he did on Monday, but he will be performing high-wire acts under the Big Top, one of 18 acts including six motorbikes in a globe, ponies, camels, llamas, and macaws, and a clown.
There will also be a strong-man act and it has a pint-sized secret weapon in Hudson Lennon, aged four and a half. The sixth-generation circus performer has already been performing for two years and has an understudy in younger brother Denver, aged two and a half.
It seemed that Hudson's ambitions lay elsewhere, however. When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said "a globe rider" or "the teeter board" were his preferred acts. At least he wants to stay in the circus.
The Great Moscow Circus is on at Majura Park from April 6 to April 25. Bookings: 1300 667 269, thegreatmoscowcircus.com.au or on site.