Big Apple Circus

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Big Apple Circus
Big Apple Circus Logo.png
Abbreviation BAC
Formation March 2000; 16 years ago (2000-03) (as a non-profit)
Founder Paul Binder and Michael Christensen
Type non-profit organization
13-2906037
Legal status Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Purpose To spread joy and wonder of a classical circus
Location
Region
United States
Key people
Staff
60+
Website www.bigapplecircus.org
Big Apple Circus
Origin
Circus name Big Apple Circus
Country United States
Founder(s) Paul Binder and Michael Christensen
Year founded 1977
Information
Operator(s) Big Apple Circus
Ringmaster(s) John Kennedy Kane
Traveling show? Yes
Number of companies 1

The Big Apple Circus, sometimes referred to as "BAC," was a circus based in New York City. Opened in 1977, later becoming a nonprofit organization, it became a tourist attraction.[1] The organization has been known for its community outreach programs, including Clown Care, as well as it's humane treatment of animals.[2] Big Apple Circus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2016.[3]

History[edit]

The 1970s[edit]

Gregory Fedin and his then wife Nina Krasavina, both born and trained in Russia, started a circus school to train future "first" generation circus performers. They started the small school in a lower Manhattan loft.[1]

The circus couple worked with Paul Binder and Michael Christensen to develop the Big Apple Circus following the European style "one ring" circus. In 1977, they located and secured an open ground area, in Battery Park, where the Big Apple Circus debuted. Headlining the early shows was a single trapeze, a dog act, tight rope walking, jugglers and clowns, double trapeze artists, and a host of other performers.[1]

During 1978, the circus moved from Manhattan. By 1979, two circus arts schools had been opened with money raised from the circus shows.[citation needed]

The 1980s[edit]

The Big Apple Circus began the 1980s with a special holiday celebration in honor of the circus and its staff. In 1981, the circus began performing at Damrosch Park of Lincoln Center for the first time, continuing until 2015. In 1982, the circus won a silver medal at a circus performing competition held in Paris.[1]

The circus began to arrange tours across New England in 1983. They also received an Obie award that year.[1][4]

By 1984, the New York School for Circus Arts/Big Apple Circus relocated to East Harlem. The New York School for Circus Arts, in conjunction with New York City Public Schools and ArtsConnection, established the Young Talent Circus Training Program. The circus program mission was to teach talented children of diverse economic communities circus arts. One of the goals was to nurture and develop talent into potential circus performers. A core group of young circus "talent" participated in a circus competition resulting in a "Gold Medal" award. Three years later, another group from the pre-professional circus program (located in the Harbor School for the Performing Arts in East Harlem) would compete in the II Rampe International Circus School Competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco.[citation needed]

In 1985, the Boston Pops teamed up with Big Apple Circus for what was touted as an extraordinary collaboration and live performance.[5] Also in 1985 and for the next few years, BAC performers appeared as guest artists with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.[6]

Then, in 1986, one of the biggest steps in the institution's history was taken, when the circus opened the Clown Care unit.[7]

The circus celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1987 with a big celebration, as well as a new tent and seating system added. Topping the celebrations was a prestigious silver crown, which the circus won at the International Circus School competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where six of the circus' acrobats/jugglers showcased their talent.[1]

During 1988 season, the Big Apple Circus participated in the first circus collaboration between China and the United States in history. "East Meets West" debut at the Lincoln Center Damrosch Park.[citation needed]

In 1989, NYNEX started to sponsor metropolitan New York tours to residents of the area and tourists as well. The tour included a trip to the Big Apple Circus' grounds.[8] The circus and some of its performers were showcased on a Woody Allen movie, Alice.[9][10]

The 1990s[edit]

In 1991, the circus appeared in a Hollywood film commemorating its 15th anniversary.[11]

By 1996, there was increased interest in Big Apple Circus and its performers in cities outside the New York/New England area. This was in part due to the circus' exposure in the Woody Allen film. In 1996, BAC traveled to both Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. Michael Christensen received two more awards, including one named after Red Skelton.[12]

In 1991, Big Apple Circus' performers participated in a collaboration between American and Russian circus performers.[1]

In 1993, the circus set a new attendance record. A new tent was purchased, and Michael Christensen was given a Parenting Achievement award by Parents magazine, to recognize his work with Clown Care.[13]

Gary Dunning became the Big Circus' executive director in 1994. In addition, he coffee brand Chock full o'Nuts began sponsoring the circus.[14][15]

Peter T. Grauer became the circus' Chairman in 1995, replacing Patricia Rosenwald.[16]

In 1996, the circus' Art in Education program began to work in different grade schools. Clown Care continued to develop, opening chapters in Washington, D.C. and in Connecticut.[17]

1997 saw new attendance records set, as an estimated 170,000 people went to see the circus' "Medicine Show" production over a total of 114 New York City performances. Furthermore, Clown Care completed 150,000 hospital visits in one year for the first time in the program's history.[18]

During 1998, the circus was able to break attendance records again, as it celebrated twenty years of operation with engagements at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and in Boston. The Boston engagement was particularly pleasant for the circus' performers, as it was one of the longest stays in that city that they had ever experienced. TJ Maxx began to sponsor Big Apple Circus appearances in Chicago and in Atlanta by bringing the "Circus of the Senses" to those cities.[19][20]

In 1999, co-founder Michael Christensen was inducted into Miami's Ambassador David A. Walters pediatric Hall of Fame, for his "contributions to pediatrics" by way of the circus and its different programs.[21]

The 2000s[edit]

Once again in 1999, "Circus of the Senses" attracted a large number of special children, with 9,000 kids participating. The circus dropped plans for a second unit that was to play in theaters after less than successful financial results during a trial run.[22][23] Additionally, the Big Apple Circus became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in March 2000.

In 2001, the circus' best known performer, "Grandma" the clown (played by Barry Lubin), inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.[24][25] A new seating system was installed in the circus big top, and, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the circus opened its "Dreams of a City" show, which was dedicated to the City of New York.[26][27]

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed November 1, 2002, as "Big Apple Circus Day".[28][29] The circus celebrated its 25th anniversary with a documentary film about the creation and production of that year's show.[30][31]

In "Carnevale!", actors and circus performers Pedro Carrillo and Alesya Gulevich entered the Guinness Book of World Records when, in 2003, they set records, at the same moment, in their different specialties: Carrillo skipped a rope on the high wire 1,323 times in a row, and Gulevich twirled 99 hula hoops at the same time.[32][33][34] Another show, "Circus to Go," allowed Big Apple Circus to reach new communities, specifically in Western states.[35]

In 2004, a TV documentary created by ABC on the circus received an Emmy award in the "Outstanding Entertainment in Programming Single Program" category.[citation needed]

Then, in 2005, Barry Lubin helped produce a show entitled "Grandma Goes To Hollywood."[36][37]

On December 2, 2008, Britney Spears performed her hits Circus & Womanizer in a televised promotion concert on Good Morning America at the Big Apple Circus. The Big Apple Circus went on to become the opening act on her phenomenally successful The Circus Starring Britney Spears world tour.[38][39]

In the 2008-2009 season, filming of a PBS documentary occurred. The documentary, titled "Circus", portrays the lives of not only the performers, but the crew as well. On November 2, 2010, PBS began to air the six-part event, told in chronological order.[40][41]

The 2010s[edit]

The 2010-2011 season show was titled "Dance On", while the 2011-2012 season show was themed "Dream Big" and was the farewell tour for the clown character Grandma, played by Barry Lublin.[42][43]

In 2014, the Big Apple Circus Metamorphosis was released to video.[44][45]

Bankruptcy[edit]

In July 2016, it was announced that for the first time since 1981 the circus will not run for the 2016 holiday season.[46] The Circus set a fundraising goal for $2 million in 2016 in an effort to maintain operations, but only half of the funds needed were raised.[47][48][49] The organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 11, 2016.[50][51][52] It was announced on January 13, 2017 that they will auction off their assets.[53][54]

Other Programs[edit]

Clown Care[edit]

Founded in 1986, the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program is composed of over 80 professional clowns, trained extensively in hospital procedures, circus skills, and improvisation, who make rounds as 'clown doctors' at various pediatric hospitals around the U.S. It is estimated that the clowns make more than 225,000 visits to children every year "in both inpatient and outpatient units, including intensive care, emergency room, physical therapy, bone marrow transplant, pediatric AIDS, and hematology/oncology."[55][56][57]

Circus of the Senses[edit]

Started in 1987, Circus of the Senses is a circus performance specifically geared towards children and adults with vision or hearing impairments, as well as special needs.[58] Sign language interpreters and sound augmentation for deaf patrons allow the audience to experience the circus as never before. In 1999, over 6,000 children took advantage of these performances.

Circus After School[edit]

Big Apple Circus' Circus After School program gives opportunities for "at-risk youth to develop life-enhancing skills such as teamwork, commitment, and responsible risk-taking through a structured program of learning and performing the circus arts."[59]

Vaudeville Caravan[edit]

Founded in 2001 as a spin-off of the Clown Care program, the Vaudeville Caravan brings clowns to nursing homes.[60]

Circus for All[edit]

The Circus for All program provides Big Apple Circus tickets to low-income and disadvantaged children, families, and elderly.[60]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Big Apple Circus". Circuses and side shows. Circuses and side shows. Retrieved 2016-10-10. 
  2. ^ Jones, Justin (2014-11-07). "How the Circus Got a Social Conscience". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  3. ^ Whitten, Sarah (2016-11-21). "That's all folks? Big Apple Circus files for bankruptcy". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  4. ^ "BIG APPLE CIRCUS PITCHES A TENT IN LINCOLN CENTER". The New York Times. 4 December 1981. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Evening at Pops; Pops Joins The Circus". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "FOR BIG APPLE AERIALIST, A LIFETIME IN THE CIRCUS". The New York Times. 27 December 1985. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  7. ^ Dionigi, Alberto. "Clown as interpreters of emotions" (PDF). simplycircus.com. 
  8. ^ "Big Apple Circus - Celebrate! Tickets - Damrosch Park- Lincoln Center - Family Shows, Attractions and Fun Kids Events!". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Big Apple Circus - November 3, 1989 Photos and Images - Getty Images". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  10. ^ "Annie Hall Movie Soundtrack". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  11. ^ "The Big Apple Circus". 9 September 1991. Retrieved 21 November 2016 – via IMDb. 
  12. ^ "Bangor Man Clowns For Living `Mr. Stubs' Says His Craft Also Teaches, Is Not Mere Folly". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  13. ^ "For hospitalized children, The Real White Glove Treatment". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  14. ^ "CFA News Detail". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  15. ^ "Gary Dunning - President and Executive Director - bio". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  16. ^ "Peter T. Grauer: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  17. ^ schools.nyc.gov, New York City Department of Education, NYC.gov
  18. ^ Schultz, Paul (1996-11-01). "Big Apple Circus: Fun to its Very Core Sick and Tired of the Same Old Routine, Friend? 'Medicine Show' a Sure Cure". New York Daily News. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  19. ^ Gener, Randy (1999-12-01). "What's Hot". www.nytheatre-wire.com. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  20. ^ "Big Apple Circus to augment season with big-name presenting sponsors. (Bristol Meyers-Squibb, Newsweek Magazine, Chase Manhattan Bank, Toyota, TJ Maxx stores and Northwest Airlines) - HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  21. ^ "Hall of Fame - Miami Children's Health Foundation". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "Circus of the Senses". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  23. ^ "Big Apple Circus: The Grand Tour - Boston Central". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  24. ^ "Barry Lubin". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  25. ^ "Barry Lubin - Circopedia". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "Big Apple Circus has big 'Dreams' for boro". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  27. ^ Clowns: In Conversation with Modern Masters, By Ezra LeBank, David Bridel, page 192
  28. ^ "Big Apple Circus Day of Celebration". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  29. ^ "Big Apple Circus Day!!". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  30. ^ "Big Apple Circus 25th Anniversary Book". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  31. ^ "Big Apple Circus to Perform on June 26th! - Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center". 26 May 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  32. ^ <NY Times, PUBLIC LIVES; Creating the Spirit of Carnival in a Tent, By GLENN COLLINS, OCT. 28, 2003
  33. ^ correspondent, David Brooks Andrews, Standard-Times. "Big Apple Circus is gasp-worthy". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  34. ^ "Big Apple Circus is polished - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  35. ^ hgoldman77, Henry Goldman (27 July 2016). "Big Apple Circus Folds Its Tent as Wall Street Support Drops Off". Retrieved 21 November 2016 – via www.bloomberg.com. 
  36. ^ elleisinny (8 July 2008). "big apple circus commercial". Retrieved 21 November 2016 – via YouTube. 
  37. ^ Tall Tales of A Short Clown By Barry Lubin
  38. ^ EARLE-LEVINE, JULIE (November 13, 2010). "A three-ring drama: Big Apple Circus juggles expenses to survive recession". New York Post. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  39. ^ Victoria Cunningham (19 July 2011). "Britney Spears- Big Apple Circus Entrance Performance (Live @ Sydney Acer Arena)". Retrieved 21 November 2016 – via YouTube. 
  40. ^ MASLIN NIR, SARAH (November 12, 2010). "Jake and Marty LaSalle, Twin Brothers, End Circus Act". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  41. ^ "Watch Full Episodes Online of Circus on PBS". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  42. ^ Simon, Scott (2011-12-11). "Grandma The Clown Is Leaving The Tent". NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  43. ^ "The Big Apple Circus: Dance On!". Broadway.com. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  44. ^ "Big Apple Circus Metamorphosis". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  45. ^ Big Apple Circus (8 October 2014). "Big Apple Circus METAMORPHOSIS Lincoln Center". Retrieved 21 November 2016 – via YouTube. 
  46. ^ "Big Apple Circus Cancels 2016-2017 Season | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  47. ^ "With No Heroes in Sight, the Big Apple Circus Will Fold Its Tent". The New York Times. 27 July 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  48. ^ "Can the Big Apple Circus Be Saved?". The New York Times. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  49. ^ "Big Apple Circus Cancels 2016-2017 Season". Playbill. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  50. ^ Leland, John (2016-12-15). "The Last Days of the Big Apple Circus". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  51. ^ Randles, Jonathan (2016-11-22). "Big Apple Circus Gets Buyers' Expressions of Interest". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  52. ^ "Big Apple Circus". 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  53. ^ Randles, Jonathan (2016-12-27). "Big Apple Circus Hopes Bankruptcy Auction Leads to a Second Act". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  54. ^ "Big Apple Circus Is Selling Its Assets | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  55. ^ "Big Apple Circus Clown Care® Celebrates 15 Years of Bringing Smiles to Hospitalized Children at Nick - Nicklaus Children's Hospital". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  56. ^ "RED NOSES Clowndoctors: Interview Michael Christensen". Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  57. ^ "Clown Care". Big Apple Circus. Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  58. ^ "Circus of the Senses". Big Apple Circus. Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  59. ^ "Circus After School". Big Apple Circus. Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  60. ^ a b "Community Programs". Big Apple Circus. Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2017-01-14.