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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin C Downs’

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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Kevin Downs photo

Master's Last Summer. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Photographer Kevin C Downs annual summer photography workshop in Coney Island is going into its fifth year at Coney Island USA. ATZ has learned a lot about photography from looking at Kevin’s photos and those of his students, which may be viewed in this flickr group.

We especially admire Kevin’s empathetic portraits of Coney Island regulars. Our favorite is probably a classic image of a “sailor” and his gal at Ruby’s, which we featured in last year’s post about the photography workshop.

The Saturday sessions begin on June 4 with a review at noon in the Coney Island Museum and go through the evening. Tuition is a very reasonable $300. From the course description:

Students will be asked to think of a specific documentary essay that is a combination of art and journalism to focus on for the entire 8 sessions. The class will work on a narrative essay that will focus on telling a story through a sequence of events or actions. They may follow an individual or activity over a period of time and present this story in chronological order. A thematic photo essay focuses on a central theme (e.g. homelessness, the environment, Amusements, The Economics of Coney Island, etc.) and presents photos relevant to that theme.

Kevin downs photo

Coney Island 2009. Photo © Kevin C Downs via flickr

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April 12, 2011: Flickr Slide Show: DNALSI YENOC –> CONEY ISLAND

January 8, 2011: Boardwalk: Photos by Meredith Caliento, Spoken Word by Michael Schwartz

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

June 16, 2010: Coney Island Photography Workshop with Kevin C Downs

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Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier is a popular spot for fishing and diving as well as for people-watching and photography. For photographer Kevin C Downs, who spends his summers running an annual photo documentary workshop at Coney Island USA, the pier is a magnet. His photos and video capture the daredevil spirit of the pier divers, who defy the “No Diving” signs for the thrill of the jump. Says one teenager: “It’s like…the adrenalin rush. It’s high. It’s better than going on any rides. It’s cheaper than Six Flags.”

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June 16, 2010: Coney Island Photography Workshop with Kevin C Downs

March 30, 2010: Super 8 Movie: I Had A Dream I Went To Coney Island

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

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Coney Island, Ruby's, Mermaid Day Parade 2007. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Coney Island, Ruby's, Mermaid Day Parade 2007. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Kevin Downs’ annual summer photo documentary workshop at Coney Island USA began earlier this month, but there’s still time to join. Consider it your passport to see Coney in a new light all summer long. The Saturday sessions, which continue through September 4, generally begin with a review at noon in the Coney Island Museum and go through the evening. Tuition is a very reasonable $300. From the course description:

Throughout its history, Coney Island has drawn many famous photographers: from Walker Evans to Weegee; Lou Stettner to Bruce Gilden. All have come to document this part of Brooklyn that is full of energy and creativity.

During this workshop, students will be documenting the changing conditions of this historic and magical place. Students will be shooting during the day and night, the icons of Coney Island: the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel, the Mermaid Parade, and the personalities that inhabit the Boardwalk and the surrounding areas, from the water to Mermaid Avenue, developing their powers of observaton and their techniques.

Students will be asked to think of a specific documentary theme to focus on for the entire 14 sessions. Some examples could include: “The People of Coney Island”, “Architecture of Coney Island”, etc. The documentary theme can be anything that tells a story and documents the people, architecture and/or landscape of Coney Island. All themes must be approved by the instructor.

Coney Island, The Zipper from The Last Days of Coney Island and The Real Brooklyn. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Coney Island, The Zipper from The Last Days of Coney Island and The Real Brooklyn. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Full disclosure: Kevin Downs as well as workshop participants Bruce Handy and Suzy Lafferty are friends of ATZ. We’ve learned a lot about photography from looking at their flickr photostreams and have selected their photos for our magazine articles and blog posts.

Coney Island resident and ATZ contributor Bruce Handy has taken Kevin’s class for the past three seasons and has assembled an impressive flickr set of his favorite photos from the workshop. “Kevin is an excellent teacher who brings 125% to the table,” says Bruce.  “Our classes last year included field trips to see famous photographers, among them Louis Stettner.  At least four times last year prominent photographers were guest lecturers at our class.  Kevin arranges all this with joy.  Kevin is a champion of Coney Island.  He brings out the best in people.  He is a very humble person, a passionate, natural teacher.”

Coney Island. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Coney Island. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Suzy Lafferty’s photos from the 2009 workshop appear on her blog Satsuma’s Junkyard, beginning with the Coney Island Dancers in Coney #1 and ending with a couple kissing at twilight on Henderson Walk. Says Suzy: “After having gone to grad school for photojournalism, a rather mummifying experience, Kevin’s workshop helped me to resurrect my love of photography: the search and the longing and the state of being that defines documentary photography for me.”

On the Boardwalk, Coney Island. Photo © Kevin C Downs

On the Boardwalk, Coney Island. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Suzy describes the Coney Island Workshop: “We would gather and talk about photography for hours, often losing track of time, and then we would set out in droves or make solitary rounds of the candy apples, the atlantic splash zone, or the boardwalk, seeking our moments or following a story.  The class was the rarest of finds.  It’s dimensions stretch three months in length, it costs close to nothing, and the hours each Saturday are sprawling.  Many times Kevin stayed out with us until midnight, roaming and combing the night for twisted and heartfelt tales.”

For info contact Kevin C Downs at kevincdownsphoto@mac.com or 917-607-3935. Kevin’s website is kevincdownsphoto.com. You can register online at Coney Island USA’s website.

Coney Island, 2008. Photo © Kevin C Downs

Coney Island, 2008. Photo © Kevin C Downs

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January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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