SIOUX CITY | Patsy Rosales' circus career began when she was 8 years old.
Her daughter, Dayesca Luna, beat Mom's mark. Dayesca, 7, plays the cutest ham from her spot in the center ring spotlight, the innocent partner a clown named Gabby leans on for laughs as the Abu Bekr Shrine Circus enjoys its 64th run in Sioux City, at the Tyson Events Center.
Dayesca represents the fourth generation of her family to perform under the big top.
"My mother is 47 and she's performing in another circus right now," says Rosales, a flying trapeze artist and the daughter of one.
Rosales, 27, has swung and twirled 20 to 30 feet above the show ring in dozens of states and Canada. Three years ago she performed with a circus in Argentina, staying there nearly a year.
Where is she from?
"I'm from all over," Rosales says quickly. She's serious.
This show, the George Carden Circus, rolled in on Monday night from Springfield, Mo. Following Sunday's close, the show that must go on heads west, or south, or east, soon applying the brakes in a place like Sioux City, or Lebanon, Mo., or Enid, Okla.
"I'm not sure where we go from here," Rosales says. "This is my job."
Ten to 12 shows per stop keep Rosales at work and food on her table. That table on Tuesday is in a Sioux City Burger King, where Rosales picks up a cardboard crown for her daughter.
The table on Wednesday afternoon is a picnic table outside the northeast entrance of the Tyson Events Center, mere feet from a line of campers where most of the circus performers sleep this week. Mother and daughter relax, enjoying the warm air and light breeze drifting through Sioux City.
Long after -- or long before -- a show, Rosales seats herself and her daughter at a table in a friend's camper. They call it a study table. Dayesca is an elementary student, after all. She requires study of some sort, as her mother did two decades ago.
"I home-school my daughter," Rosales says. "I was home-schooled by my mother when she was on the road. I went to a regular school during our off-season, from November through January."
That three-month period found Rosales at the high school in Hugo, Okla., during her teens. She refers to Hugo as her hometown. It's where she earned her high school equivalency degree.
"I remember going to the library in Hugo and taking a state test," she says.
At some point, Dayesca will do the same. Between then and now mother and daughter will see dozens of cities together. They'll find time in their performance schedule to sit at a table and read, or do math, or study lions, tigers and bears.
"At least two hours per day I have to devote to her and school," Rosales says while looking at her daughter as the girl mimics dance moves her mother performs in the circus' opening act. "I am a single mother, so it's up to me."
What does Dayesca like about school?
"I like to read,'" she says. "I write, but not so good. I have to get better at writing."
When it comes to math, Luna handles "pluses." She's not so proficient at "minuses." Not yet, anyway.
She'll get better, her mother promises. Flash cards for math will help. And soon the little girl, who, like her mother, is fluent in English and Spanish, will graduate to multiplication, division and fractions. She'll transition from children's books to children's novels and beyond.
And, she'll learn to swing, flip and twist, going from dance steps at ground level to a choreography that soars above the center ring.
The little girl seems to know as much. She also knows a word of caution: She doesn't want to be in the circus when she grows up.
"I want to be a doctor," she says.
She has a half-sister who has already entered medical school.
Rosales talks about medical school and the dreams she keeps for her daughter. The show might not go on for one family's fourth generation.
"I'm too old for college," Rosales says. "My daughter is not. I want my daughter to go to college."