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This is where they stand and pace and stretch. This is where they pray or practice or spit into their own palms for good luck. Circus performers—artists of the air and sawdust—hang behind a heavy curtain, shrouded in shadows, waiting for their moment in the brightly lit ring. Or maybe they've just finished their act, and the acrobats and jugglers are taking giant gulps of air, the clowns are tired and sweaty from the exertion, their makeup smeared across their tired faces. All of them are spent from the exuberant crowds and the hard work of entertaining. Here, behind the heavy curtain, they collapse, or wait or stretch or laugh. Here, behind the curtain, is where the circus begins and ends.