The Big Apple Circus runs from now until January 11th in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The show is two hours long including intermission. On Wednesdays there is a two for one ticket deal and no intermission (75 minutes).
Perennial Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane keeps the show moving along with little negative space between acts and almost no clowning.
Odbayasakh Dorjoo is presented with the challenge of fitting her body inside a clear plastic cube. She really bends over backwards for you to make it happen. There is little room left inside her almost average-sized New York City apartment, but Tatevik Seyranyan manages to get right in there with her. Cozy.
Next up, Jenny Vidbel, who last year did dogs and later horses. This year she has only one act, dogs and miscellaneous critters including a porcupine, pony, and goats. Fun for the kids.
Next was easily the best act of the night, The Anastasini Brothers, two guys doing risley (antipodist foot jugglers with one base man and one flyer). The base man wasn’t really much bigger than the flyer which was impressive. The last risely act I saw was last year’s Mother Africa Circus which was also excellent. They finished with 29 back flips but the flyer was an adolescent boy. The Anastasini finished with 26 back flips but the flyer was a fully grown man. They also did flips landing on both feet followed by flips landing on one foot. Many forward and back flips and flips with twists. This was highly precise and entertaining. Well done.
Tatevik Syranyan, the contortionist who we saw earlier, returned for her solo act, this time dressed like a nerd with horn rimmed glasses. I wish nerd girls in my school had looked like that. Now she enters juggling three tennis rackets in a cascade. and then moves on to tricks while on rola bola, first with one stack, and then with three. When she starts her five stack rola-bola you can see she is actually a serious artist. After mounting the five-high, she maneuvers rings around her feet and works them up and over her head. A good trick but I’ve seen it before. But then she does a trick I’ve never seen before. She uses a tennis racket as the board on top of the five-high stack and puts a standard juggling ring around the handle (handle pointing forward) and gets the ring spinning while up there. Then she juggles three rings briefly. That was quite a trick.
Then the Anastasini brothers return with Dad and Mom to do team diabolo using large Jay Green style diabolos. Good passing tricks and some standard two diabolo tricks including shower and columns. Hmmm. After the excellent risley act I expected more from an Eastern European circus family. Some of the greatest circus acts I’ve ever seen have been diabolo acts but usually under the auspices of Chinese acrobatic women who toss, do phenomenal acrobatic stunts, and then catch. Occasionally someone like William Wei Liang Lin will come along and do multiple tricks with three diabolos and Excalibur throws and be astounding. But this circus family’s performance was a bit of a let-down, particularly after their previous act.
Next up Smirnov Duo. They did a classic quick change routine which was not really to my taste. I can’t really stand magic acts, and this style is among my least favorite. [The same act got good reviews on The Juggling Edge – ed.]
The last act was the Aniskin Troop on flying trapeze. Good standard tricks, a gimmicky lights-out segment with glow in the dark costumes, and a finale with a double somersault which they missed (I’m pretty sure they don’t miss it every night, but still…).
The last two years in a row, the Big Apple Circus was much more entertaining, longer, and featured full length toss juggling acts, including last year’s show featuring Ty Tojo with his seven ball backcrosses. Okay, the majority of the audience is children and parents who don’t know about Gregory Popovitch or the great Francis Brunn, and they enjoyed the show. But if you know your circus, you are going to walk out without that ‘circus thrill’ which we all love and strive for.
Still, if you’re going to go, bring a muggle date and go on Wednesday for half price and try not to say, “I can do that” too often.