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MAY 5-11

It’s another transitional era for the big top. Most circus animals still perform the same old tricks, but with the backing of animal-rights advocates, few beasts have to play the fool in the spotlight. They can go on strike before the tents ever hit town. Confronted with this dilemma, circus promoters have turned increasingly to their human charges for new routines. The daughter of Russian circus performers, Diana Koupchik (pictured) began toying with Hula-Hoops on the sidelines while her parents worked; now she wows audiences as a sort of human Slinky, twirling more than 100 hoops in a technicolor gyration. The 13-year-old Koupchik is one of the new stars of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, which also features the Bulgarian Bombshell Eli Tcholakian, billed as the “most provocative human projectile ever” and the “bravest woman in the world”; she is a raven-haired beauty who flies at 55 mph after being blasted from the “world’s largest cannon.” Sometimes the old shtick remains mighty impressive. Tent Raisings: At 7 a.m.-noon on each opening day. Performances: At 4:30 & 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chesnut St., Gaithersburg. $10. (301) 230-4930; at 4:30 & 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Woodbridge High School, 30013 Old Bridge Rd., Woodbridge. $10. (703) 490-1495; at 4:30 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 & 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bull Run Park, 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville. $10. (703) 802-5510. (Eddie Dean)