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Fun with Math: The Geometry of Entertainment

Updated on September 14, 2014

The Plane Geometry Solution

A HubPages Question from Q & A: What's the difference between a 3-ring circus and the Rockettes?

  • This question has an old one-liner solution that circulates around the Internet (and formerly on FAX machines, and still more formerly in brothels), but we shall not list it here.

There are at least three better answers to this gag question.→


The difference between the Rockettes and a three ring circus is the difference between a straight line and a line of eccentric circles.

Notice in The Figure Below the straight line, representing the Rockettes in their standard lineup, is presented along with three separate circles placed in a straight line to symbolize the three rings of the old time Big Top tent circuses. Many circuses today are much smaller and have only one performance ring, but larger companies still exist.

The Figure Below

A Three Ring Circus

This appears to be the circus I saw when I was 6 or 10. Tiny isn't it? But then, so was I. Click to enlarge.
This appears to be the circus I saw when I was 6 or 10. Tiny isn't it? But then, so was I. Click to enlarge.

A Macabre Bradbury Circus

Definitions and Requirements

Word: three–ring circus (noun). Frst defined by this dictionary in 1909.

  1. A circus with simultaneous performances in three rings
  2. Something wild, confusing, engrossing, or entertaining

[Source: "three-ring circus." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online.]

  • Requirements to run away with the circus: Apparently limitless possibilities. In order to work for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, please send a query to Feld Entertainment ®, including a letter, your resume, and other materials, like a DVD of your talent. Address: Feld Entertainment, Attn: Human Resources Dept., 8607 Westwood Center Drive; Vienna, VA 22182

Word: Rockettes (noun, plural)

1. American dance troupe of the full name "Radio City Rockettes", formerly the Missouri Rockets or the Roxyettes.

The Rockettes as a dance team was formed in 1925 by Russell Markert of St. Louis, Missouri. He called them The Missouri Rockets. Locals liked them, so the owner took them on tour. NYC was particularly admiring of the dance troupe and Sam “Roxy” Rothafel bought the dance team organization for his well known Roxy Theater.

Sam doubled the size of the team and changed their name to The Roxyettes. After opening the Radio City Music Hall near Rockefeller Plaza, Sam enlarged the team again and renamed them The Rockettes in 1934.

[Source: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.]

  • Requirements to dance with The Rockettes: female, at least 18 years old, between 5' 6" and 5' 10.5" tall, and proficient in all of tap, jazz, ballet, and modern dance genres.

Radio City Music Hall

>ANSWER TWO:The Bulwer-Lytton Solution

None, no difference at all; they are both as much fun as a three ring circus and they both have dancing girls; in fact, when the Rockettes break into three subgroups and dance in circles (as we saw once on late night TV), they approximate the three-ness of the actual three ring circus, more-so when they dance in three circles; which reminds me that the three eccentric circles of the line of three performance areas or arenas of the three-ring circus that are analogous to three points on a straight line, so while three acts perform on the inside of three circles (which are very much like large points on a giant line) - Elephants, lions and tigers, and the man shot from the cannon - they are in a way a straight line of three acts like the straight line of dancing Rockettes in a single act.

>ANSWER THREE: The Britney Spears Answer - "Circus"

Trailer from 1954's Three Ring Circus with Martin and Lewis

Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees as a Youngster on Circus Boy

Additional Circus Lore

  • Amphitheater of Fire- Cirque Du Soleil. History of the circus, history of Cirque, and video.
  • Welcome to Ringling Bros. Circus! - Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Greatest Show on Earth! Clown college takes applications year around.
  • Circus Center San Francisco - Features the New Pickle Circus. Kids can learn about circus performing and the whole community enjoys the show.
  • Circus Sarasota - Based in Florida.
  • Big Apple Circus- New York City. Created in 1976, with extensive community service projects in 2009. Job listings available online.
  • The UniverSoul Circus- encouraged by the fact that a black circus operated in America in 1893, the founders of UniverSoul Circus opened their shows in 1994, 101 years later.
  • Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars - Based in DeLand, Florida.
  • Circus World - Circus Museum in Wisconsin.
  • The Moscow Circus - Top notch Russian Circus.
  • Russian American Kids Circus - Based in NYC, performs worldwide.

Comments and Solutions

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    • Mac Mission profile image

      Mac Mission 8 years ago from bangalore

      Mast information.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      International Circus Hall of Fame is there, so I must add them to the list above. They have the Peru Amateur Youth Circus. The Hagenbeck and (Ben) Wallace Circus used to be there. Ringling Bros. snd Barnum & Bailey used to winter there. Also Sells-Floto, Howes Great London Shows and the John Robinson Famous Shows, according to

      Thanks for the tip, nicomp! You're a peach!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Which circus spends the Winter in Peru, IN?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      The "Circus" vid is different isn't it, Cris A?

      Thanks filevn, for commenting.

    • profile image

      filevn 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      This is very interesting indeed. And I must admit I almost fell of my chair when I got to Britney's vid! LOL thanks for sharing, i never though of circuses this way :D

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Anna and laringo - I could not let this request go, rather than flagging it, I changed perspective. :)

      VioletSun - did you see the episode of Ace of Case where Charm City cakes made a cake for the Rockettes? It was a lot of fun. Thanks for commenting.

      Maren - thanks very much! The request set my mind going in different directions. Britney's video is strange and interesting at once. Almost like the Bradbury novels like Something Wicked this Way Comes - otherwordly circuses, but we see pieces of them every day.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great mind candy!

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Living in NY for most of my life before moving to the West Coast , I watched the Rockettes perform in Radio City Music Hall quite a few times, and it was quite a performance! Had no idea either that they were originally from St. Louis. As I say, there is always something new to learn everyday :)

      Thumbs up!

    • laringo profile image

      laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

      Pattyl amother great Hub, You amaze me on the good topics you come up with. They are always interesting and most times something I probably wouldn't think about.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      Excellent answer to this request!!! I had thought about including it in one of my silly/stupid requests Hubs, but you have answered it perfectly!!!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I never knew they were from St. Louis originally! - I thought the Missouri Rockets were a roller derby team. :)

      Thanks for the visit!

    • born to be free profile image

      born to be free 8 years ago

      Interesting Patty,

      I never knew that Sam had changed the name of the Rockettes to Roxyettes. Interesting Hub, keep up the great work Patty.