By Dominique Jando
The son of a vaquero, Pedro Carillo was born in 1947 in Colombia. He began his circus career as a roustabout in traveling circuses. In his spare time, he practiced wire-walking and soon become proficient enough to perform on the high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire.. Along with Daniel Acosta, another high-wire walker who had followed a similar training path, Pedro joined a newly formed high-wire troupe and toured Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. In 1967, the troupe came to the United States, where they performed in fairs and traveling circuses.
Having honed their skills and acquired performance experience, Pedro and Daniel created their own high-wire duet, The Carillo Brothers. They performed, at great speed, rarely seen tricks, such as a two-man-high column with a dismount on the wire, jumps over each other, and rope-jumping—all without a net, and most of the time without a balance pole. Harold Alzana, The Great Doval (Manfred Fritsch), and Gene Mendez and Joe Seitz had popularized this style of frenetic high-wire daredevilry, but when the Carillo Brothers began performing their act, it was still a novelty.
The Carillo Brothers quickly made their mark. In 1977, they were featured as a solo act in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show On Earth. That same year, they participated in the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo, where they became a sensation and won a Silver Clown award. Later in the year, Daniel Acosta seriously injured himself in a fall during a performance with Ringling Bros. Luis Posso, who was born to a family of Colombian high-wire artists, replaced him.
The Carillo Brothers remained with The Greatest Show On Earth until 1984. In 1985, they were featured at the Big Apple Circus and in a PBS TV special, The Pops Join the Circus, with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
Pedro Carillo continued a brilliant international career with various partners, the last being his son Pedro, Jr., with whom he worked until 1994. The following year, Pedro Carillo, Jr. struck out on his own, creating a new high-wire act, The Carillos.
Still, his father hadn't hung up his balance pole yet. Pedro Carillo continued to perform, doing spectacular crossings on the high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire.. In 2007, at age 60, he participated in a high-wire competition as part of the Hi Seoul Festival in South Korea. The challenge was to walk as quickly as possible across a kilometer-long (3,280 feet) cable stretched over the Huan River, 22 meters above the water. He finished in eighth place, completing the walk in just over seventeen minutes.
- Video: The Carillo Brothers (Pedro Carillo and Luis Posso), Big Apple Circus, 1984