Hallowed circus traditions like animal exploitation, unfunny clowns and men in tights be damned — America’s best known and biggest traveling circus is going hip hop (cough) and “in your face”. From Newsday’s Bryan Virasami.

For the first time in its history, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has hung up its rings, in favor of a single theme show. When the circus comes to New York next month, audiences won’t be viewing a dizzying display of acts simultaneously on three different stages. Instead, it will roll out a fast-paced saga that circus officials hope will generate new interest in the 136-year-old circus.

At its March 14 opening at Nassau Coliseum and a week later at the Garden, the horses, elephants and daredevil acrobats will share the stage with a 22-foot video screen, hip-hop music and 2002 “American Idol” finalist Jennifer Fuentes.

Ken Feld, chairman and chief executive of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, dreamed up the format along with his daughter Nicole Feld. He said today’s fast-paced life-style and in-your-face entertainment are among the reasons the circus is transforming itself.

“It’s no longer the passive experience it once was,” he said.