Picture a circus family, and a furry pack of South American wolf-children may come to mind, but not Tina Miser.
The 33-year-old Peru, Ind., mom has a degree from Ball State University and served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Now, she's a human cannonball in Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey's "Zing Zang Zoom," a circus opening Wednesday at US Airways Center in Phoenix.
For Miser, the circus is a family affair. Her husband Brian Miser, also from Peru, built the double-barreled cannon that shoots Tina and co-cannonball Ekaterina Borzikova 65 feet across the ring. He also acts as triggerman, timing the combustion that fires the women into the air. The Misers' daughter, Skyler, travels with them on the milelong train that hauls the circus, its performers, animals, props and supplies from city to city.
Zing Zang Zoom features reliable circus classics, such as clowns, high-wire walkers, aerialists and Chinese acrobats. Thrill acts include a never-before-seen Quadruple Russian Fire-Swing and dueling, spinning wheels of steel that resemble human hamster wheels.
But the show is also focused on illusion. Magical bits include levitation, the disappearance of a four-ton elephant, and a human who transforms into a tiger.
Animals in the show include a dozen Bengal and white tigers, Arabian and Friesian horses, and a bunch of trick-performing dogs. A herd of elephants do a lavish Bollywood-style music and dance number.
The Misers got their circus-ing start in Peru, which calls itself the "Circus Capital of the World" because circus troupes wintered there in the early 20th century. In honor of its heritage, the town stages an amateur circus every summer, put together by local volunteers and aspiring young performers.
Ticket holders may show up an hour before the circus for a free all-access preshow and Ringling Bros. Clown College.