The word for the day was "extreme."
Wednesday was Media Day at Feld Entertainment Studios in Palmetto with dozens of reporters and photographers from around Florida on hand.
The highlight was a sneak peek at "Circus Xtreme," the newest show from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The show incorporates extreme sports, but that's not the only extreme element. Even the high wires in this show are extremely high, media people were told. And those people astride the Bactrian camels were "extreme camel riders."
Officials of Feld Entertainment, the Palmetto-based company that owns the Ringling Brothers Circus, are clearly excited about the Circus Xtreme, which blends traditional circus acts -- clowns, acrobats, animal acts and trapeze artists -- with troupes who specialize in such modern disciplines as parkour freerunning and BMX that fall into the broad category of extreme sports. Freerunning and the related discipline of parkour involve a combination of running, tumbling and gymnastics.
"We've taken two disciplines that didn't coexist before,' said Michael Schwandt. "And it works beautifully."
Schwandt, director of "Circus Xtreme," said he put the show together to provide an experience that would have just as much impact on children as on adults.
"I want them to come out on a high, saying: 'That was amazing. I want to come back tomorrow,'" he said.
"The extreme sports and the circus come together in an extreme way," producer Alana Feld said.
Guests were treated to traditional and contemporary acts from "Circus Xtreme."
Gemma "The Jet" Kirby, billed as the world's youngest female human cannonball, slid down the cannon's barrel and was shot through the air across the cavernous rehearsal space onto an inflated mat.
Then, a team of American stunt bicycle riders and Ukrainian trampoline artists and freerunners came out and performed the show's finale, in which all three acts perform at the same time.
Bike riders performed on see-through ramps. Trampoline artists jump off and on a structure maybe 25 feet tall. Freerunners worked on an inflatable mat and a system of wires allowed for some impressive stunts.
The sneak media peek is an annual event, always held just before the circus opens in Tampa. They've been held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa in recent years, which is where the circus rehearses.
The circus now rehearses in Palmetto, however, after completion of the massive Feld Entertainment World Headquarters this year. Both "Circus Xtreme" and another Ringling Brothers Circus, which will start its national tour in January, were rehearsing in that same facility.
Nicole Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, said coordinating all Feld operations from around the country into one massive building in Palmetto made a huge difference in the rehearsal process.
The costume department is right next to the rehearsal area, and a warehouse housing thousands of costumes is also in the building. So are the set shops, so if something breaks or just doesn't work it can be replaced immediately, instead of being trucked in from some other state.
Feld Entertainment plans to launch virtually all its shows from Palmetto, including Disney on Ice, Monster Jam motorsports and "Marvel Universe Live!," the largest show in Feld's history, which premiered in August.
"Circus Xtreme" opens Jan. 1-4 at the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa.
Information: 813-301-2500 or go to amaliearena.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.