Happy to report that the Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center and better than ever. The 2017 rendition is a thrill a minute, two-hour delight filled with top-notch high-flying trapeze artists, tight rope walkers, jugglers, and acrobats. Big Apple Circus had financial problems and closed in 2015 after a failed emergency fund-raising drive. After a successful auction in bankruptcy, the circus emerged as a for profit organization and opened its tent at Lincoln Center in October for its 40th season. The circus has been an annual event in our family for the past eight years and we are thrilled that it made a comeback. Check out my photos of the circus from the afternoon November 25 performance on my photography website notmydayjobphotography.com.
Previous years had themes celebrating New York’s Times Square and life in the 1920s. This year’s circus is devoid of a grand theme and that’s fine with me. Give me great acts and spare me the storyline and drama. The show consists of 16 segments with many acrobatic acts from Venezuela and Argentina.
The highlight was the Flying Tunizianis Troupe trapeze act featuring Ammed Tuniziani. Ammed, from Venezuela, is from a third-generation circus family. He founded the troupe and performs with his wife Estefaini Evans. Ammed was spectacular, completing gravity-defying feats including an amazing quadruple somersault. He is only the ninth performer to complete this trick heart-stopping trapeze trick, according to the program. On his exit in the finale, he performed a layout back flip and, after bouncing up from the safety net, securely nestled into the swing high above. Ammed is a crowd favorite, filled with great athleticism and charisma.
The final act was the dramatic Wallendas high wire act, featuring the Seven-Person Pyramid. The feat is stunning in which four men support the pyramid in a line, each with support shoulder bars. On top of the four men are two men atop the bars, finished up with a woman on top the shoulder bars of the two men. The seven tightrope walkers dramatically and slowly advance in unison for the long walk to the support tower. The act debuted in 1947, created by family patriarch Karl Wallenda. In 1962, the pyramid collapsed in a performance in Detroit. In 1999, the feat returned with the 6th and 7th generations of the Wallenda family performing in Detroit. Nik Wallenda, who has 10 Guinness World Records, was the youngest performer at the time and he carries on the Wallenda family tradition.
Between the great opening and closing acts were solid and entertaining classic circus acts. Contortionist Elayne Kramer, a 6th generation performer from Argentina, bundled herself up in a pretzel numerous times. She seems not have a back, which allows her to almost touch her rear end to the back of her head. She ended up by shooting a balloon with a bow and arrow with her feet (see photo below). Amazing!.
Ammed’s brother Gamal Garcia Tuniziani had a unique juggling act by bouncing many (seven?) tennis balls one after another rather than throwing them in the air. The third brother, Dandino and his wife Luciana had a thrilling roller skating act in which Dandino swung his wife in a circle, performing numerous tricks. The Anastasini Brothers, 9th generation circus performers, had an interesting Risley Act in which one of the brothers was on his back, spinning and flipping his brother with his feet. Jan Damm balanced and jumped rope on several buckets and cylinders. Jenny Vidbel, an animal trainer in the Big Apple Circus for the past six years, had two lively segments with an army of horses and dogs.
Ringmaster Ty McFarlan, formerly of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, kept the show moving while Barry Lubin and Joel Jeske added comic relief.
Performances run through January 7 with tickets available at the circus website. Definitely worth checking out. A show that adults will enjoy as much as the kids. Here are my reviews from previous years: 2015, 2014, and 2013.