The Big Apple Circus, performing at Lincoln Center until Jan. 27, was the circus of childhood memories. The circus tent, though small, was decorated with lights. A rainbow of colors and big carnival signs offered the various food and souvenirs available. A bar was open and all kinds of carnival foods and heart-attack-inducers were for sale.
Light-up spinning toys were available for parents who were suckers for their kids or those who were simply nostalgic. Those finding the urge to join in on the fun were able to buy the light-up gizmo for a fee of $18.
The circus costumes were flamboyant and colorful and each performer had a huge smile plastered to his or her face, but the overall performances seemed lackluster.
The show began with performer Emil Faltyny balancing the frame of a large metal box on his nose, which he continued to balance while standing on and moving up a metal contraption. He even managed to kick a soccer ball to rest in the corner of the box, after balancing the box on a pole, which, in turn, was balanced on his forehead.
An ongoing in-between act storyline of two goofy characters played by Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler — one already a circus performer and the other an aspiring performer — distracted the audience between sets. The men played songs on bells attached to their clothes and employed the audience to help them recreate a beat by clapping.
In the act Duo Fusion, the incredibly strong Virginia Tuells and her husband Ihosvanys Perez performed an act in which they were impressively able to hold each other’s weights while performing all sorts of tricks. Tuells was able to hold up Perez while wearing a sparkly gold pair of kitten heels, which definitely added to the act’s difficulty.
Circuses are often criticized for animal abuse and though modern-day circuses strive to get as far away from that image as possible, it seemed a bit cruel to watch an act where dogs practically attacked their handlers for food and were being denied it until the animals performed a multitude of tricks to the liking of their handler.
The audience was delighted by the appearances of numerous horses, including young foals, as well as dogs and a piglet. The animal acts under animal presenter Jenny Vidbel were far from exciting, with the horses only riding around the ring for a few minutes and the dogs simply catching frisbees and doing basic tricks that may be seen by a more talented and driven dog-and-owner pair at any nearby dog park.
Spicy Circus, a trampoline act, began the second half of the show, in which performers jumped from a higher platform onto the trampolines and did a variety of tricks and coordinated dance moves. The act was light and fun.
The finale, which was the trapeze act of the Flying Tuniziani, was less than impressive, considering the short distance the artists had to go across and the repetitious nature of their stunts. Each performer did essentially the same basic trick twice, though the second time was in a more rapid motion.
The final stunt was nothing to go home and rave about. Ringmaster Stephanie Monseu claimed it had only been accomplished by two people in the world, including Ammed Tuniziani, the performer displaying it for the audience that day. On his second attempt, Tuniziani was able to demonstrate the quadruple somersault, to his, as well as the audience’s, relief.
After the show, audience members were available to meet and greet performers in the front of the tent.
The Big Apple Circus, despite having filed for bankruptcy a little over a year ago and remaining unstable, has kept close to its roots. They have not improved their performance as much as one might have expected, but nostalgia for childhood might persuade patrons to see the circus with their friends or kids. It is doubtful that they would return for another go. Some things are left better in memory and in this case, the Big Apple Circus definitely didn’t meet expectations.
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