Going to the Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center has been a New York holiday tradition since the 1980s. We especially like to go on New Year’s Eve when the show ends with a champagne toast and dancing in the ring, but this year we caught the show early. At last Saturday’s performance of Legendarium, scenery in the style of an antique handbill set the mood for a journey back in time even before the show started: “Presenting the unprecedented attractions of THE FIRST BIG TOP and exhibiting celebrated American jesters and natural born fools The AcroBuffos…”
Acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, a contortionist, an equilibrist, Liberty horses and former shelter dogs are also on the bill. The jovial ringmaster John Kennedy Kane shares entertaining anecdotes about circus history relating to the Brooklyn Bridge and Broadway. We learn that the first-ever circus ring measured 42 feet in diameter, which is the size needed for a horse to reach a full gallop, and that is precisely the size of the Big Apple’s ring.
Over the years, Katja Schumann’s Liberty horses and Barry Lubin aka Grandma the Clown have been among our favorite performers. Lubin retired after last year’s show and we miss him. The highlight of the show was Jenny Vidbel’s Liberty horse act featuring Arabian horses and ponies. When the ponies trotted out, the audience let out a collective gasp of delight. Other standout acts were slack wire maestro Zhang Fan, Daniel Cyr and his mesmerizing Cyr Wheel, the Dalian Bicycle Troupe, Desire of Flight aerialists Malvina and Valeriy, and Emily and Menno van Dyke, who passionately dance the tango at the same time that they juggle.
The Big Apple Circus, Lincoln Center, New York City, through January 13, 2013; Alpharetta, GA, February 1-18; Bridgewater, NJ, February 18-March 17; Boston, MA, March 26- May 12.
Related posts on ATZ…
December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)
March 7, 2012: ATZ Review: Love Never Dies in a Phantasmal Coney Island
July 13, 2011: Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs
August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination