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Posts Tagged ‘Circus Vidbel’

In July, ATZ posted Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs. Circus Vidbel was in Coney Island for an abbreviated run, but Kevin Downs photographs of the performers have a timeless quality that evokes the classic portraiture of the Golden Age of the Circus. You can view the complete set, including a few candids, on the photographer’s website.

Ambra Zerbini, Zamperla-Zoppe Riders, Coney Island July 12, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

The 1927 film “IT” made Brooklyn-born Clara Bow a sex symbol. In August, Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island featured anecdotes about Bow and this scene from the film. She plays a shop girl who goes on a first date with her boss to Coney’s Steeplechase Park, where the Human Roulette Wheel and the Barrel of Love help them get acquainted.

Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys’ album “The King of In Between” has been called “as uncannily fresh and forceful as the songs on his debut record, from 1973″ by the New Yorker and it’s on plenty of year-end Top 10 lists. You’ll see why in this live performance of Coney Island Winter: Garland Jeffreys Live on Letterman

New York City hasn’t had any snow since the freaky October snowstorm dubbed Snowtober on the web. In addition to a snow-covered Coney Island Boardwalk, photographer Bruce Handy’s flickr slide show offers snow-dusted Halloween characters and the rare sight of the Wonder Wheel’s cars, which ordinarily have been taken down for the winter before the first snowfall.

As ATZ reported exclusively early this month, Miss Coney Island and Coney Island Always, along with Skin the Wire and two or three other games, are moving from Jones Walk to booths on West 12th Street. Their location is next to the Coney Island History Project. Bring a roll of quarters because it will still be “25¢ to Laugh,” “25¢ to Smile,” and “25¢ to Fall in Love” with the famed mannequin, who is expected to debut a new outfit and new music this season.

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December 30, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Fave 11 Posts of 2011 – Part 1

December 27, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2011

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

January 1, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010

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Ambra Zerbini, Zamperla-Zoppe Riders, Coney Island July 12, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

After a first look at Circus Vidbel on Saturday, photographer Kevin Downs returned over the next few days and took these beautiful portraits of the performers against the backdrop of the Big Top. The photographs have a timeless quality that evokes the classic portraiture of the Golden Age of the Circus. You can see the complete set, including a few candids, on flickr.

Zamperla-Zoppe Riders with Guido, Coney Island. July 12, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

The Altier Archers, Peggy Mills and Nino Murillo. Coney Island, July 11, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Nino Murillo, Archer. Circus Vidbel, Coney Island. July 10, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Susan Vidbel-Ashton, Aerialist and Owner, Circus Vidbel. Coney Island, July 12, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Circus Vidbel’s Big Top is set up at 3100 Stillwell Avenue, just off the Boardwalk in Coney Island. Shows are Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $10.00 and are on sale at the ticketbooth one hour before showtime. For more info visit the Coney Island Fun Guide.

Update, July 17…

Catch the show this weekend! The circus will be here only through Sunday, July 17th and then will be hitting the road again. Discounted tickets are now available online
http://coneyisland.eventbrite.com/

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 10, 2011: Photo Album: Vidbel Old Tyme Circus Opens in Coney Island

June 21, 2011: Zamperla-Zoppe Riders Coming to Zamperla’s Coney Island

May 11, 2011: Coney Island 2011: Summer Photography Workshop

September 2, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

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Circus Vidbel

Susan Vidbel-Ashton, Aerial Cloud Swing. Circus Vidbel, Coney Island. July 9, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Circus Vidbel, a genuine “Old Tyme” family-run circus, has opened in good ol’ Coney Island.  You’ll find their red-and-white striped big top on Stillwell Avenue across the street from Scream Zone’s flying coaster. Susan Vidbel-Ashton grew up traveling with the circus founded by her grandparents in the 1980s. Today, in addition to performing the lyra and aerial cloud swing, she manages the show with husband Mike Ashton, a juggler and musician.

Usually Circus Vidbel moves every day, performing in small towns under the auspices of local sponsors. In New Canaan, Conn., where the circus played an annual three-day stand before coming to Coney Island, the YMCA and Kiwanis Club and a Chevy dealership were the sponsors. This arrangement helps raise money for local non-profits and ensures a full house for the circus. But in Coney Island, where Circus Vidbel plans to spend the summer, they’re on their own as far as drumming up business. And so we’re picking up our megaphone to say: Please come out to see this delightful one-ring circus and help keep the circus arts alive and thriving!

Circus Vidbel

Zamperla-Zoppe Bareback Riders. Circus Vidbel, Coney Island. July 9, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

ATZ attended a Saturday performance of the Circus Vidbel with photographer Kevin C. Downs, who runs a photography workshop in Coney Island. Here are a few of Kevin’s snapshots as well as some of our own. More photos and video to come! (Update: Check out Kevin’s flickr photostream and website for photos from Sunday’s performance.)

Last month, ATZ wrote about the Zamperla-Zoppe Bareback Riders, whose skill as equestrian acrobats goes back six generations to two Italian circus families. We’re thrilled to see them in Coney Island! The troupe performed with Ringling’s Gold Unit before joining Vidbel a few weeks ago. They’ve also performed individually or as a troupe with the Dixie Stampede, Gilles St. Croix’s Cheval Theatre and Olissio Zamperla-Zoppe’s “Fratelli,” as well as at state fairs and Renaissance festivals.

The Fabulous Darnells & their Poodles. Circus Vidbel, Coney Island. July 9, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

We’re fond of novelty dog acts, which were a staple at the county fair vaudeville stages of our carny childhood. Somehow we missed seeing the Fabulous Darnells, three sisters who perform a kitschy, glitzy act with their prancing poodles. They were probably playing Vegas! The Darnells and their dogs sport an extraordinary array of matching costumes and their wardrobe includes not only the Stars and Stripes, but a Hawaiian hula skirt and a Scottish kilt.

The first time we saw Chinese vase juggler Guiming Meng’s astonishing performance was with the Big Apple Circus in 2008. His skill at balancing and spinning larger and larger porcelain jars on his head was the surprise hit of the show. According to Circopedia, Guiming Meng’s father was a master jar juggler. He first came to the United States with the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe before making his way as a solo performer.

Circus Vidbel

Guiming Meng, Vase Juggler. Circus Vidbel, Coney Island. July 9, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Circus Vidbel’s Coney Island show also features Mike Ashton, foot juggling and live music; Tevin Delmonte, Rolla Bolla and Clowning; and Peggy Mills and Nino Murillo, Archery. Shows are Tuesday through Fri, 6 & 8 pm; Saturday, 4, 6 & 8pm; and Sun, 3 & 6pm. Tickets are available one hour before showtime and cost $10. At the show we attended, children 5 and under were admitted free of charge.

Update, July 17…

Catch the show this weekend! The circus will be here only through Sunday, July 17th. Discounted tickets are now available online
http://coneyisland.eventbrite.com/

Circus Vidbel

Drumming up business at Circus Vidbel Ticketbooth, Coney Island. July 9, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 12, 2011: Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs

June 21, 2011: Zamperla-Zoppe Riders Coming to Zamperla’s Coney Island

May 11, 2011: Coney Island 2011: Summer Photography Workshop

June 17, 2010: Coney Island Fireworks Show: Every Friday Plus 5 Saturdays

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When Circus Vidbel opens in Coney Island on July 4, one of the featured acts will be the famed Zamperla-Zoppe Bareback Riders, whose skill as equestrian acrobats goes back six generations to two illustrious Italian circus families. The brothers Olissio, 32; Gino, 23; and Ermes, 19, will be performing here all summer in Vidbel’s ring with Ambra Zerbini and their Percheron draft crosses and a Paso Fino.

Asked if the Zamperla-Zoppe brothers were related to the ride manufacturing Zamperlas from Vicenza who operate Luna Park, Olissio said they were third cousins, but have never met. “I very much look forward to meeting them,” he added, and was delighted when we told him that Alberto and his son Antonio were frequently seen in Coney Island.

ATZ spoke with Olissio by phone from Louisiana, where the Zamperla-Zoppes were winding up a three-month tour with Ringling’s Gold Unit, which played Coney Island for the past two summers, but bowed out this year. Earlier this month, we confirmed with Valerio Ferrari, CEO of Zamperla’s Central Amusement International, the operators of Luna Park and Scream Zone, that CAI would be bringing in the Circus Vidbel for a one-year deal.

Zamperla-Zoppe Riders. Photo via Cavallo Equestrian Arts - Ma'Ceo

“I’m terrifically excited to be coming to Coney Island, I’ve done some shows with Vidbel before,” Olissio Zoppe told ATZ. The brothers have also performed either individually or as a troupe with Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, Gilles St. Croix’s Cheval Theatre, Olissio’s equestrian extravaganza “Fratelli,” Orlando’s Arabian Nights Show and at numerous state fairs and Renaissance festivals.

According to Olissio, the Zamperla family began to branch out a couple of generations ago when Alberto Zamperla’s grandfather, also named Alberto, built the family’s first ride.  Said Ollisio, “Way back, his father Antonio had a circus and they also had a traveling movie theatre inside the tent.” Olissio recalled that his late grandfather, Napoleone Zamperla, was visited in Florida by Alberto Zamperla’s father Antonio, the founder of the ride company. They were first cousins, Olissio said. Now the circus equestrian side and the amusement ride manufacturing side of the Zamperla family will be reintroduced to each other this summer in Coney Island.

The video above shows the Zamperla-Zoppe Riders’ bravura reunion performance before an audience of fans and friends in Sarasota, the home of the American circus and the brothers’ hometown.  They perform somersaults from one galloping horse to another and other daring feats with passion and authenticity that truly seem to come from another century. Their website speaks of “celebrating a tradition that stems from the Golden Age of the Roman Empire. A tradition as grand as the Coliseum that was built to contain it. An eternity ago it thrived, but for centuries since, it was but an empty shell. However, that which once left spectators breathless and amazed, the very Heart of Rome, lives on today.”

Napoleone Zamperla (1926-2009) and his family performed the Roman Bareback Riding Act. Photo via Cavallo Equestrian Arts

The Circus Vidbel will also feature Susan Vidbel-Ashton, aerial cloud swing and lyra acts; Mike Ashton, foot juggling and live music; The Fabulous Darnells Magic and Dog Acts; Tevin Delmonte, Rolla Bolla and Clowning; Peggy Mills and Nino Murillo, Archery; and Guiming Meng, Vase Juggler.

The Big Top will  set up on the City’s Stillwell parcel across from the new Scream Zone. According to the press release on the Circus Fans of America website, performances are scheduled from July 4 through Labor Day. Shows are Tuesday through Friday at 4, 6, and 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 3 and 6 pm. The circus has Monday off. Tickets cost $10 and will be available for purchase before showtime.

Update, July 17…

The circus will be here only through Sunday, July 17th and then will be hitting the road again. Discounted tickets are now available online
http://coneyisland.eventbrite.com/

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 10, 2011: Photo Album: Vidbel Old Tyme Circus Opens in Coney Island

June 3, 2011: Vidbel Circus Coming to Coney Island in One-Year Deal

August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

June 17, 2010: Coney Island Fireworks Show: Every Friday Plus 5 Saturdays

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