‘The Grand Tour’ with the Big Apple Circus, Lincoln Center

By Jonathan Spira on 13 January 2016
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The closest I had come to going to the circus until recently was walking through Piccadilly Circus with my parents and wondering where the elephants and clowns were. Making up for lost time, I attended one of the final performances of the Big Apple Circus’ “The Grand Tour,” the big top neatly tucked into Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. (The show opens in New Jersey in February, Boston in March, and is back in New York in May.)

While there were no elephants, nor were there lions nor tigers nor bears, there were prancing horses, acrobatic dogs, clowns, and death-defying acts.

The evening’s theme was travel and, as the ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, noted, “At no time was travel more luxurious and more adventurous than in the 1920s.” The costumes (designed by Oana Botez, whose credits include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Joyce Theater, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and the Bucharest National Theatre) were delightful and transported the viewer to the era.


As the band played on (no one had told me there would be a real band, with some of the music arranged by the aptly named David Bandman), we were whisked back to the Roaring Twenties. It was the Jazz Age, a time of artistic and cultural dynamism, and filled with sailors, fly boys, tourists, Arabian horses, and natives clearly from several foreign lands.

Two clowns, Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth, both from physical theater company Parallel Exit as is the director Mark Lonergan, served as our porters, waiters, and guides as we traversed oceans and continents, moving easily from London to the Far East to Arabia until finally arriving in (spoiler alert) the Big Apple.

The world tour includes performances by a diverse group: Chiara Anastasini does amazing things with her hoops, turning herself into a giant slinky (don’t try this at home, children, in fact don’t try any of what you see at home); Alexander Koblikov’s juggling; prancing Arabian horses; and dogs that ride scooters.   Two brothers, Erick and Jayson Dominguez, tempt fate by jumping rope and walking blindfolded high above the crowd on the Wheel of Wonder.

There are ponies and pony rides, but much to my disappointment I wasn’t allowed to take one home.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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