Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Pedro Reis began circus training at the age of 12 at a local YMCA, developing his skills on the flying trapeze. He later went on to help found the first circus school in South Africa.
As an artist, in 1982, Pedro established The Survivors, a thrilling aerialist act that toured Europe and made its American debut with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1984. In 1987, Pedro became a solo artist, performing with The Big Apple Circus at Busch Gardens and The International Circus Festival of Monaco. Throughout his career, Reis has been invited to perform before a number of dignitaries including HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, HRH Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Royal Family of Monaco, and former United States President Ronald Reagan.
In 1997, Reis and his wife, world-renowned aerialist Dolly Jacobs, combined their experience, passion, and dreams to create Circus Sarasota, a one-ring European style circus that is the only professional, not-for-profit circus in the state of Florida. In the years since its founding, Circus Sarasota has become a worldwide attraction for both area and global audiences. Now rebranded alongside Sailor Circus as The Circus Arts Conservatory, Reis and Jacobs have continued to elevate the awareness and appreciation of circus artistry through performance and outreach programs that involve area schools, youth organizations and care facilities community wide.
Reis is the recipient of a variety of leadership awards and positions in the art realm. In 2004, Reis received the Sarasota County Arts Council’s prestigious Arts Leadership Award. Recognized for its leadership in both artistic programming and sound management and fiscal practice, Circus Sarasota received the greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award in the Arts Organization of the Year category in 2005. In 2009, Reis was inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame on St. Armand’s Circle, and along with his wife, has been inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame at the John and Mable Ringling Museum.
In 2014, Reis was appointed to serve on the Florida Council of Arts and Culture, a 15-member advisory council appointed to advise the Secretary of State regarding cultural grant funding and on matters pertaining to culture in Florida. Appointments to the Council are determined by the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, in consultation with the Secretary of State and are based on geographic representation, as well as demonstrated history of community service in the arts.
In 2017, the Smithsonian Institution invited Reis and The Circus Arts Conservatory to be the Participating Partner for the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, which honored the Circus Arts. Reis and over 100 staff members, crew, volunteers and Sailor Circus students brought the Circus Sarasota Big Top and Sarasota’s finest circus artistry to the National Mall, where millions of spectators from around the globe gathered during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As a lifelong veteran of the profession, Reis strives to elevate circus artistry to new heights while preserving its integrity and history in both the local and worldwide arenas.