Posts Tagged ‘Guiming Meng’

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

Circus Vidbel

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


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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