Legends, at Ringling-Barnum
First off, please take note: These kudos are based upon my having seen, in some form, the following shows during 2014:
Big Apple Circus, Luminosity, Queens
Circus Bella, San Francisco
Ringling-Barnum, Legends, Oakland
Kelly Miller (from a DVD of the entire performance)
Big Apple Circus, Metamorphosis, live streaming tape delay, in a movie house, Emeryville, CA
Cirque du Soliel, Kurios, San Francisco.
So, to be clear, among the shows I did not see, there are these:
Carson and Barnes
Thus, I am issuing Kudos rather than Awards.
Drum Rolls! Fanfare! Enter the Honored!
Outstanding Circus Performance of the SeasonRingling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey - Legends
Greatest Advance in Showmanship for a Single ProducerJohn Ringling North II. Two of this years best acts are first-time-in Americas. North is proving his potential to rise higher.
Best Staged and Scored ActDosov Tetterboard troupe, Big Apple Circus - Luminocity. Bloody brilliant.
Best Contortion ActAmina and Azai, from Mongolia, Kelly Miller Circus
Transcending the tortuously slow muscularity of arguably far more complicated contortion routines out there, yet these two gals invest their crisply animated repertoire with intricate leg movements, impressively unified and coordinated. It is the only contortion act I've seen in a long while that I would welcome seeing again. (Yes, and yes - slow slow slow leaves me bored bored bored.)
Single Most Mesmerizing DisplayTy Tojo, Big Apple Circus - Luminocity
Best Original ScoreDavid Bandman and Jeffrey Holmes, Big Apple Circus - Lumnocity
Best Live Music, tieBig Apple Circus, Luminoicty, Rob Slovki, director
Circus Bella, Rob Reich, composer, accordionist, and band leader. Reich's work bubbles with giddy melodic bounce and enthusiasm, making Bella a continuous joy to the ear.
Outstanding New DiscoveryShowmanly Abrham Gebre, ball bouncing juggler, Kelly Miller Circus. He somersaults into the tent, makes charismatic eye contact, and pulses the show with natural star power.
Best Ringmaster (Role) of the SeasonJohn Kennedy Kane appearing to play John Kennedy Kane,, Big Apple Circus, Luminocity
Best Reliably Good RingmasterJohn Moss III, Kelly Miller Circus
Moss repeats a recurring traditional role with class and power, unhampered by the scripting that can
compromise or corrupt the natural talents of others, like John Kennedy Kane or Jonathan Lee Iverson.
Outstanding Novelty ActLamount, the Human Volcano, Kelly Miller Circus.
A work of deft ingenuity and staging based on fire eating, Lamount expands standard fire-eating tricks into a riveting spectacle of panache, funky humor, and dazzling fireworks in the dark.
Outstanding use of hula hoops in atypical fashionNatasha Kaluz, Circus Bella,
for fashioning a most engaging juggling routine using hula hoops as props
Outstanding Wild Animal DisplayAlexander Lacey, Ringling-Barnum - Legends
Outstanding Mixed Animal DisplayVicki Zsilak and Hans and Maria Close, featuring dogs, pigs and two jumping kangaroos.
Ringling-Barnum - Legends
Most Promising Young Wild Animal Trainer on the RiseRyan Holder, Kelly Miller Circus. One of his charges moves about upright on his hind legs for an impressively extended period, his expressive front paw movements seeming to "feel" the music of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Memorable.
Outstanding Razzle DazzleSmirnov Duo, Quick Change (attire), Big Apple Circus, Metamorphosis.
Outstanding Production NumberThe opener at Ringling-Barnum - Legends
A supernatural sensation; I've never felt so far out -- into another world. Absolutely stunning.
Outstanding Creativity in Circus ProductionCirque du Soleil - Kurios.
Outstanding Presentation of Traditional Chinese AcrobaticsThe hoop divers, Ringling-Barnum - Legends
Outstanding Combination of Ground Acrobats and AerialTrampoline and Vaulting, Cirque du Soleil, Kurios. These two terrific turns electrify the crowd.
Funniest Clowning(not easy, there were so few well-earned laughs out there):
Ringling Clowns spoofing a bike riding act, Ringling-Barnum - Legends.
Most Exciting Ringmaster AnnouncementJohn Moss at Kelly Miller: "Children of all ages! John Ringling North the second welcomes you to the two thousand fourteenth edition of the Kelly Miller Circus!"
Yes, I'm a hopeless Ringlingphile. But then, so are you, right?