Regina Meirmanova was born to be a circus star. Her father Nourbol, from Kazakhstan, studied at the world-famous Moscow State Circus School. When he graduated in 1980, his first professional gig took him to Orenburg, Russia. There, he met Svetlana, Regina’s mother. As Svetlana tells it, she was working in a store. It was her first day on the job after graduating from college. Nourbol walked in, pointed to her and said, ‘she is the one.’ A year later, they were married and touring the world as circus artists.
Three years after they married, Nourbol and Svetlana had their son Almas, now 32. The small family continued to travel and perform. When he was old enough, Almas joined his dad in the circus ring doing a hand-balancing act. Almas performed with Midnight Circus before moving to Las Vegas to be a cast member of Absinthe, a critically acclaimed acro-cabaret show in Las Vegas. Svetlana was a part of a magic act and performed with tigers and elephants. They didn’t plan to stop touring the world, but when Svetlana got pregnant again almost 20 years later, she found she needed to rest. The traveling Meirmanov family stopped where they were — Chicago.
When I sat down with Regina, at the Meirmanov Sports Acro and Circus Arts gym located in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, summer camp was in full swing. Dozens of children filled the space learning how to do aerial silks, rolling globe, plate-spinning, juggling, partner acrobats and more.
“I’ve been doing circus since I was two,” said Regina, now almost 14. She explained how, in their house they had gym mats in their living room and silks, a trapeze and straps hanging from the ceiling. The first thing she remembers trying was to climb the silks. She was always performing, demanding the attention of her audience (mom, dad and brother) and reminding them to clap. She could do full splits at the age of 3 and, as her mom described, showed no fear even as they raised the trapeze higher.
At 4 years old, Regina stepped into the Midnight Circus in the Parks’ center ring for the first time. She joined her brother, Almas, as a member of Midnight Circus. This 2017 season will be Regina’s 10th year with Midnight Circus in the Parks!
When Regina is not teaching kids at the MSA Circus Summer Camp or preparing her act for the August 26th Midnight Circus in the Parks opening night, she is training for the U.S. Diving Nationals taking place in Columbus, Ohio at the beginning of August. Her father drives her to Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, IL to train five days a week. Regina’s goal, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. On the day we spoke, Regina was especially excited to have just mastered a forward three and a half dive. She pulled out her phone to show me the video. She made the virtually impossible look graceful and easy.
This September, Regina will be starting her first year at Taft High School on Chicago’s Northwest Side. She says she may want to be a doctor when she grows up because she loves helping people. She knows the schooling with be difficult but isn’t afraid of a little hard work.