Monday, September 24, 2012

Review of Big Apple Circus at Dulles Town Center, Loudoun County, Virginia

We went to The Big Apple Circus yesterday and had a blast!*  The tent is intimate - seats less than 1,800 - so every seat is close to the action.  One act performs at a time and there weren't any lasers or fireworks or props all lit up light like Christmas trees.  That is very important to me, the mom of a child who gets sensory overload pretty easily.  The crew is very efficient when changing the ring for acts.  In fact, you may not even notice them at all because you are looking up at a solo trapeze act or laughing at the clowns' high jinx in the stands.

The theme of this, their 35th, season is LEGENDARIUM: A JOUNEY INTO CIRCUS PAST.  We enjoyed classic acts from when circuses began - horses, trapeze, clowns, contortions and acrobats.  Things I hadn't seen before were a slack wire, tangoing jugglers or were they juggling tangoers and trick bikes to bring us back to the present.  Each act was wonderful.  There's no magic, no slight of hand, no trickery.  It's athletes and performers who awed, amazed and entertained us with their strength, skills and talents.

Our seats were front row, center!  We were so close to the action, it was hard to not reach out and touch the beautiful horses as they went by or feel the costume of the female acrobat in Quinterion as she strutted on the ledge in front of us.  So close, in fact, that when those horses got up to a nice trot, they kicked up some floor shavings onto us.  It was a 3-D show!  LOL  Don't worry, the staff was diligent about keeping the floor shaving clean of any animal droppings, so we stayed clean, too.

Below is Elayne Kramer, a contortionist.  This woman can't possible have a spine, the way she folded herself over this way and that way.  The strength in her arms!  We took many shots of her but most did not turn out because I am not the best photographer.  But look at this shot: picture yourself doing a handstand. Now lower your rear end behind your back until your torso is parallel to the ground and bring your head forward  in the opposite direction.  Yeah, I can't imagine me doing that, either!

I wish I was over to the side of Ms. Kramer to get you a better shot of what is going on here.  She is actually holding a bow and arrow with her toes and aiming to pop the yellow balloon attached to the silver star on the other side of the ring!

We had never seen a performance on a slack wire before and Zhang Fan really impressed us!  Below, he's balancing himself on the wire with a ladder.  He also walked  on this slack wire, did forward and backward rolls on it, swung on it while standing up and rode a unicycle upside down (did a handstand on the unicycle and pedaled with his hands!) instead of sitting on it.

From China, Zhang Fan faces the ultimate test of balance,
performing stunts of sheer strength on a swaying slack wire!
Photo credit: Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus
The van Dykes juggled while dancing the tango!  While he is standing in one place in the photo below, they actually danced around the ring while he juggled balls and clubs around her. Mr. van Dyke did something I have not seen a juggler do before - near the beginning of their performance, he juggled clubs overhand.  And not overhand to his partner; he juggled them overhand by himself, close in front of himself!

From France and the Netherlands, Emilie and Menno van Dyke combine the
dramatic passion of tango with rhythmic juggling for a dance of flawless
coordination! Photo credit: Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus
But the best part of all for B was Acrobuffos, the clowns - Madame and Monsieur!  A comedy team in costumes, wigs and masks (because clowns used masks, not makeup, when circuses first began).  They were hilarious and used sounds and actions instead of words.  They flirted with each other and audience members; they ran towards each other and away from each other.  But at one point, they pulled B out of the audience and into the ring!  B was wearing his hat, clown nose and sock monkey medical bag at his seat and walked out there with them on.  Monsieur took them all off and handed them back to the hubs and me.  Using only whistle bursts and actions, Monsieur got B to practice going down on one knee, holding his arm out in front of him and making kiss noises.  

Once B was sufficiently "trained", Monsieur's wig and mask were put on B, a bouquet of roses placed in his hand and then we, the audience, called Madame out with a, "YOOO-hooo!"  She saw B and thought he was Monsieur.

B knelt down, held the flowers out and she took them from him.

He got a hug and he kissed her hand.

Once he'd kissed her hand, she turned to hear another "YOOO-hooo!" from the real Monsieur.

Madame went after Monsieur, who then came back to take the mask and wig off B, thank him for his participation and sent him back to us.  B said, "It was amazing!"  After the show, we were waiting in line to use the restroom (which were clean and fresh smelling, BTW) and a couple of women approached B.  "Hey, aren't you the boy who was in the clown skit?  You were great."  "Thanks," said B.  They turned to me and said, "Is he an actor?"  "He'd like to be someday," I answered.  "No, I mean, was he a plant?"  "No...." I replied, confused.  "Did they come up to you before the show and explain what was going to happen?"  "Nope.  We were as surprised as everyone else," I said.  Now they addressed B again, "Wow!  You really were great!  Good job!"

We had a great time and I'm so grateful we were able to come see the show.  We'd only been once before, about 5 years ago, when my aunt took us.  Since B was older this time, I know he will not forget these memories.

*Big Apple Circus provided us with free tickets in order to review the performance on my blog.  However, this review was written by me, reflects my opinions only, and was not edited by Big Apple Circus.

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