The Circus Is Back in Town

The Big Apple Circus is a story of maintaining tradition. After working for the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the 60s, Paul Binder and Michael Christensen bumped into each other again while working as street performers in Europe. They teamed up, and started dreaming of the future. [1]

Meanwhile, Gregory Fedin and his wife Nina Krasavina, Russian circus performers, were forming a “circus school” in New York.  When Binder and Christensen returned to New York, they worked with the circus school to found a European style, one ring circus—The Big Apple Circus. Focusing on artistry and intimacy, this first Big Apple Circus featured single and double trapeze, a dog act, tight rope walking, jugglers and clowns, and other performers. By 1979, sales of Big Apple Circus tickets were sufficient to support two Circus Arts Schools. [1]

In 1981, the circus moved to the Lincoln Center and became a part of the New York holiday season. [2] For the next 35 years, the circus entertained Lincoln Center audiences and toured from Atlanta to Chicago. But it wasn’t just about performing. The circus was also an active part of the community. With programs like the Circus for the Senses, a performance designed specifically for those with vision and hearing impairments, or the Circus after School program where at-risk youth can developed skills that can help them succeed in life, the Big Apple Circus has helped thousands. [3]

The circus also created the Clown Care program in 1986. This special program employed over 80 professional clowns who visited pediatric hospitals around the U.S. to entertain children with their circus and improvisation skills. In a 15-year period, the clowns performed an estimated 225,000 visits to young patients every year. [4]

Unfortunately, the Big Apple Circus has faced its own challenges. In 2016, it shut down and filed for bankruptcy. A last-ditch effort to raise the necessary funds fell short, and for the first time in 35 years, the familiar circus tent didn’t make an appearance at the Lincoln Center for the holiday season. But like any good performance, the show must go on, and in 2017, the Big Apple Circus made its comeback—just in time for its 40th anniversary. Big Top Works, and affiliate of Compass Partners, bought out the circus and immediately announced its return. With a touch of nostalgia, the circus will return to the Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. The circus will also continue its community work, even adding a special program for children with autism. [5] Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, Big Apple Circus tickets are once again available—and it’s a show you won’t forget.



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