Saturday, January 10, 2015

Big Tops Round the World: First "American" Circus Awards ... to The Daring Young Comrade on the Korean Trapeze ...

American Circus Awards, Really?  Touted by Circus Now to be the first annual handouts, and presented in the Big Apple Circus tent, here they are:

* The Community Impact Award: Big Apple Circus
* The Evolving Circus Award: Gypsy Snider, for directing circus acts into Pippin.
* The Elevating Circus Award: Phillipe Petit, high wire stunt man

Also featured during the celebration were “several of America’s most esteemed performers," including  Nico & Charlotte from the Montreal based 7 Fingers and members of BAC cast.  Some misc. musings:

* Is Montreal part of America?  And if it is, then what about circus in South America? 

* Why Frenchman Phillipe Petit?  If we are really talking American, why not  the arguably more accomplished Nik Wallenda, who was actually born in the United States of America?  (Oh, that's right, Nik didn't write ten books -- publish or you're just another peanut pusher)

*  Why so few categories, and who were the judges?

*  Another futile attempt to put the U.S. on the international map?  The affair strikes me as elitist, and when you look at Circus Now's underpinnings, it's academic.  I admire their reach, I doubt much will come of it.  Elsewhere in the world, where aspiring circus performers spend more time over sawdust than before classroom chalk boards, real circus schools are producing real ring stars, and real festivals are honoring world class talents.  Not here.  Not yet.  Nice try, Circus Now.   Next time, how about spending a little time outside New York city?  There's a circus called Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey that you might want to check out, too.

His grand kids wanted to leave the circus at intermission, Humbug!  That would be Tim Torkildson, writing in Circus Report about a day at the circus – the show having it all, to his eyes,  but still unable to hold his i-Brats beyond the break.  Refuses to name the show, which undermines the potential value of the article's depth, and so I wrote to  the Biggerstaffs asking, why?  Jan e-mailed me back, promising to ask Tim for the name of the circus. Don't count on Tim answering.

Okay, check your politics at the red wagon.  Let’s travel to one of those far off lands where they spend less time navel gazing on the “static trapeze,” more time turning multiple somersaults through the air.   Drum rolls, comrade, if you please ...  or if you don’t please!

North Korean exceptionalismPlanet Circus raving over a new flying act seen at a festival, conceived up there in that moral void, featuring a mind-boggling array of inventive action, Russian swing included, but rooted in true muscle power and including — QUAD ALERT!  QUAD ALERT!  — yes, a flyer turning quads. "... not only leaves you speechless because of its tricks," writes Helmut Grosscurth, "but it is also fun to watch because of its smooth choreography and fluent moves." What is it about tyranny, communism and Buddha that produces some of our most riveting ring stars?  Might it be a climate of oppression that fosters rigorous restraint in the face of hardship, and the fierce self-discipline necessary to succeed just the same?  Just wondering, Comrade ...   Okay, back to the American way ...

Remarkable Circus Performance from Big Apple:  Another great DVD I just purchased from Tim Tegge, taking us back to 1989 (still, in my view, the last great decade for circus in America) -- Grandma Goes West.  A rich outing, coated in the mystique of the old west, finely directed with six outstanding acts (at least), presided over by ringmaster Paul Binder, another class act, opening the show and then remaining a silent presence throughout.  Funny, but Grandma, hardly as amusing as I had expected, is hardly the star of this great opus.  The score was an asset. And, oh, the most talented performing animal I have EVER seen, Anna May, presented by and performed with the masterful  Ben Williams. This incredibly gifted elephant, who dazzled Circus Vargas crowds, leaves me speechless. It was like watching a Disney animation.  DVD highly recommended.

Ooops!  Enough for now.  More later ...

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