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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Illuscination’

Grand Finale of The Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

You get a lot of entertainment for the price of a ticket to the Coney Island Illuscination–a “thrillusionist” and his beautiful assistant, Kung Fu masters diving through flaming swords, hair-hanging aerialists, Salsa dancing acrobats, tightrope-walking kitty cats, an educated toucan and more. The circus, which is in a tent on the Boardwalk, is here for 12 more performances–Wednesday through Labor Day. Our selection of photos by Bruce Handy, Jim McDonnell and me-myself-i provides a glimpse of what you’ve missed seeing this summer if you haven’t been to the circus in Coney.

Jamieleigh with Blue-Throated Macaw at Pre-Show. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

At the interactive pre-show, which starts 90 minutes before showtime, we met Jamieleigh and a blue-throated macaw, one of the rare and pampered birds in David DaVinci and Jamieleigh’s traveling aviary. On his blog thethrillusionist.com, DaVinci says one of his favorite things to do is take trips to remote locations to freefly their parrots. He also takes in and trains rescued birds that haven’t flown in decades. You might enjoy watching this YouTube video of Jamieleigh and a “hilarious parrot.” More than 23,000 have viewed it so far! In the Coney Island Illuscination, DaVinci, Jamieleigh and a few of their birds perform a variety of Houdiniesque illusions.

Hair-hanging aerialists Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves

Hair-hanging aerialists Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves. Photo © Bruce Handy

Hair hanging?!!! Watching Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves spin by their ponytails is fearsome and sublime. Their act reminds us of the antique Barnum & Bailey poster showing a Chinese troupe nonchalantly sipping tea as they hang by their topknots. Hair hanging is something we’ve seen performed live only once before. Even among extraordinary circus folk, there aren’t a lot of hair hangers. One of our sideshow friends who tried to learn the act tells us a special technique of braiding the hair is what makes it possible, but it’s still excruciatingly painful. Not for the faint of scalp!

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Bruce Handy

If we were a little girl, we’d want to be Mayya Panfilova when we grow up. Then we would never be cat lonely. According to the Illuscination website, ten of the twelve performing housecats were handpicked and trained by Panfilova, while the other two were born in her care. The cats balance on top of balls, jump through hoops and walk across a low wire using their front paws. Dear Ms. Panfilova, we suggest you write a book: “How to Train Your Cat to Be a Circus Star.” We predict it will be a bestseller!

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Mayya Panfilova with one of her 12 trained house cats in the Coney Island Illuscination Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

The theatrical buffoonery of the Trio Caveagna from Italy calls to mind the rich tradition of commedia dell’arte. Artidoro Caveagna and sons Steve and Jones combine music and clowning in a uniquely entertaining way.

Artidoro and Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna. Photo © Bruce Handy

According to the group’s bio: “Artidoro acquired this one-of-a-kind art form from his father Elicio, who was not only an accomplished musician but also a revered clown in Italy. Elicio performed this act for several years in a prominent Italian circus, Circo Nando Orfei, where his performances were legendary.”

Artidoro Caveagna performing with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Bruce Handy

Steve Caveagna, an 18-year-old clown with the zaniest hairdo in New York City, joined the family act when he was 10. With his elastic body and quirky poses, he’s a natural at physical comedy. While Steve’s father and brother play trumpet and saxophone, he cheerfully drowns them out with his boom-box antics and wins over the audience with hip hop dance moves.

Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Steve Caveagna of the Trio Caveagna with the Coney Island Illuscination. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island Illuscination, Surf Ave at W 21 St, Coney Island, 800-745-3000, through Sept 6, 2010.

The Illuscination’s “Gold Tour” runs through March 2011 and includes stops in upstate New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida.

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June 5, 2010: Ringling Circus Back in Coney Island, Congrats to Trivia Contest Winners!

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August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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Coney Island Illuscination & Deno's Wonder Wheel posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Coney Island Illuscination & Deno's Wonder Wheel posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Stillwell Terminal is lined with vivid posters for Ringling’s Coney Island Illuscination, which opens on June 17, and for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, whose landmark Wonder Wheel celebrates its 90th birthday this year! On Friday, Ringling’s sleek blue-and-yellow striped circus tent was raised for its second season in Coney Island. Photos of the tent raising from start to finish can be found in Ringling’s photo album on Facebook as well as Amanda Stevens’ flickr set.

In 2009, the Coney Island circus made history by bringing “The Greatest Show On Earth” back under “The Big Top” for the first time since 1954. Justin Case, who rode a tiny bicycle through a ring of fire, was our favorite performer in last year’s Coney Island Boom-A-Ring. This season’s all new show features illusionist David DaVinci, a trio of Italian clowns, Russian acrobats, Chinese Kung Fu masters and more!

Coney Island Illuscination's Empresses of the Air, Widny Neves and Viktoriya Medeiros. Photo via Ringling Coney Island's Facebook

Coney Island Illuscination's Empresses of the Air, Widny Neves and Viktoriya Medeiros. Photo via Ringling Coney Island's Facebook

Last month ATZ had a history trivia contest to give away two Family Four Paks for opening weekend of Coney Island Illuscination. Readers who sent in correct answers were eligible for a drawing for the circus tickets. Congrats to our two winners –Bill F. of Old Bethpage, NY, and Jim A. of Smithtown, NY. Enjoy the show!

Bill and Jim were among several people who correctly answered question # 2: “Tell us the name of a Coney Island attraction that was named after a member of the inventor’s family! Name of inventor and relationship to family member also required!” One correct answer is Luna Park–the original Luna Park, of course– which opened in 1903 and was named after park co-owner Elmer “Skip” Dundy’s sister Luna. Another correct answer is the Virginia Reel, a popular ride that made its debut in 1908 at Luna Park. It was designed by Henry E. Riehl, who named the ride after his daughter, Luna Virginia Riehl. With the rebirth of Luna Park Coney Island, will Luna become a popular girl’s name once again?

The Virginia Reel at Luna Park, 1910. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division via flickr

The Virginia Reel at Luna Park, 1910. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division via flickr

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May 20, 2010: Trivia Contest! Win VIP Circus Tickets to Coney Island Illuscination

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

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Would you like to win free tickets for the Coney Island circus’s opening weekend show? Skip down to the next graf! First off, we’re thrilled that Ringling Bros. Circus is coming back to Coney Island this summer after last year’s successful run of their Coney Island Boom-A-Ring, which entertained over 160,000 visitors and employed over 300 local residents. In 2009, the Coney Island circus made history by bringing “The Greatest Show On Earth” back under “The Big Top” for the first time since 1954.

The Big Top will be back at the Boardwalk and 15th Street from June 17 through September 6 with an exciting new show. Coney Island Illuscination stars master illusionist David DaVinci, the Kung Fu Kings from China, a trio of Italian clowns and more. ATZ is giving away two Family Four Paks –that’s 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 drinks– donated by the Ringling Circus. The tickets are VIP floor seats (!) good for all ages and are for Sunday, June 20. The winners can choose between the 1 pm or 5 pm performances.

Kung Fu King, Sun Junjie diving through hoops of razor-sharp sabers -- blindfolded! Photo courtesy of Ringling Coney Island

Kung Fu King, Sun Junjie diving through hoops of razor-sharp sabers -- blindfolded! Photo courtesy of Ringling Coney Island

Instead of just picking a couple of names out of a hat, ATZ wanted to make it more interesting for our readers, so we’ve created a Coney Island history trivia contest. All you have to do to be eligible for the drawing for the circus tickets is send us one correct answer to one of the questions. The more correct answers you submit, the more chances you have to win. We’ll post the answers along with source links when the contest is over.

The deadline for submissions is either Thursday, May 27, or when we’re up to our eyeballs in hundreds of correct answers, whichever comes first! We’ll post an update here if it begins to look like the contest will conclude before the 27th. This is our first contest, so we’re winging it. Send your answers via email to hello[AT]triciavita[DOT]com.

Now for the questions….

1. Boyton’s Sea Lion Park, Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, Dreamland, and Astroland are the most famous of Coney Island’s historic amusement parks. Can you tell us the names of any other Coney Island parks from the past and their approximate dates of operation?

2. Tell us the name of a Coney Island attraction that was named after a member of the inventor’s family! Name of inventor and relationship to family member also required!

UPDATE June 5, 2010:

Congrats to our two winners –Bill F. of Old Bethpage, NY, and Jim A. of Smithtown, NY. Enjoy the show! Bill and Jim were among several people who correctly answered question # 2. The answers are revealed in “Ringling Circus Back in Coney Island, Congrats to Trivia Contest Winners!”

Ringling Bros. Big Top in Coney Island, August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ringling Bros. Big Top in Coney Island, August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ...

August 31, 2010: Snapshots of the Coney Island Illuscination

December 23, 2009: Coney Island School Bus Lot Has Gotta Go! The Circus Is Coming

September 3, 2009: Coney Island Baby: Cyclone, the Mini Donkey at the Ringling Circus

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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