Big Apple Circus presents Circus of the Senses, specially adapted performances for those with disabilities

Big Apple Circus returns to the Big Top at Lincoln Center for the company's 38th season with the World Premiere of its all-new show, The GrandTour, and presents Circus of the Senses:a specially adapted performance that enables children and adults with vision or hearing impairments and other disabilities to experience the joy and wonder of the circus. Through the use of audio headsets, Braille descriptive programs, American Sign Language interpreters, and a special "touch session" after the show, anyone and everyone can enjoy Big Apple Circus' The Grand Tour! 

The Grand Tour transports audiences to the Roaring 1920s, the advent of the modern travel era, when the most adventuresome began to tour the world in ships, planes, trains, and automobiles. With every seat less than 50 feet from the stage, audiences will be awed by the world-class entertainers as they perform breathtaking acts from the four corners of the globe. Clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America appear with ponies, puppies and more; the troupe sets off on its own whirlwind adventure, accompanied by the live, seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band at each of more than 100 performances.

Matinee performances of Circus of the Senses will be presented (75-minute abbreviated shows):

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 11am
  • Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 11am 

A "touch session" after the performances offers a unique opportunity for pre-selected groups of visually impaired children to go into the ring to meet the artists and literally feel a clown nose, a juggler's clubs, or the silky coat of a performing dog.

"The touch session was awesome! To put touch to the animals named and movement to acts
helped to solidify the experience. They LOVED it!" -
Lucienne Carrier


Wireless audio headsets, which utilize a state-of-the-art infrared transmission system, feature a play-by-play description of the action in the ring by Big Apple Circus Founder Paul Binder and Creative Director Karen McCarty. American Sign Language interpreters are strategically positioned in spotlights to translate the auditory aspects of the performances. Audience members also have their choice of a large-print or Braille descriptive program, each of which describes the acts and environment in detail. 

"The ASL interpreter was so personal and made a point to connect with each child before the performance. Thank you so much for allowing us to participate in such a great event!"

- Sarah Stone, Massachusetts Newborn Hearing Screening Program

"The audio descriptive headset is an essential component of the Big Apple Circus experience
for students with visual impairments. [...] My students were able to come back to their schools and
tell their sighted friends what they "saw" at the circus! Fun, beautiful, amazing, awesome."
Janett Ulwick Sacca, Vistars

"The descriptive headsets are a godsend. With those headsets and the wonderful job the two narrators do, Kirk does not miss a single bit of the show. He and his three brothers discuss all the details of the Circus of the Senses for weeks afterward. This is one event where he does not feel left out and that is
so very important!" -
Eileen Brouwer

Tickets for Circus of the Senses are $12.50 ($10 for groups of 10 or more). To get tickets, please visit to fill out a ticket application form. Please note that submitting the ticket application form does not guarantee tickets. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis to eligible groups. Priority is given to children with vision and hearing impairments and their chaperones. No ticket requests will be taken by telephone.

There will be an evening performance of the full show on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 6:30pm, at which audio headsets, Braille descriptive programs, and American Sign Language interpreters will also be offered. Tickets to the Wednesday evening performance are available at

Circus of the Senses is also offered at performances in Queens and Boston.

For more information about accessibility at every Big Apple Circus performance, please visit:

Circus of the Senses performances are supported in part by the Frank J. Antun Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, Roy A. Hunt Foundation, James T. Lee Foundation, Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, The Rudin Foundations, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Shubert Foundation, AXA Foundation, Bank Leumi, Moody's Foundation, and with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.  Additional support was provided by Big Apple Circus members.

The GrandTour runs from October 21, 2015 to January 10, 2016. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

"Awe-Inspiring!" - The New York Times
"There's no shortage of thrills...Fun for all!" - New York Post
"The Finest Up-Close Circus in America." - Variety
"America's Best Circus for Children" - Parents Magazine 

Four-time Big Apple Circus ringmaster John Kennedy Kane returns to introduce a variety of stunning performers: clowns Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth; third-generation circus animal trainer Jenny Vidbel with her pony and dog acts; aerialist Sergey Akimov; international juggling sensation Alexander Koblikov; ninth-generation circus performer Chiara Anastasini with hula hoops; the Dominguez Brothers defying the law of gravity with their thrill-filled act featuring the Wheel of Wonder; Chinese hand balancers The Energy Trio; the African acrobatic troupe Zuma Zuma; and the Dosov Troupe soaring on the teeterboard.

The GrandTour, conceived and created by Joel Jeske, is directed by Mark Lonergan (artistic director of Parallel Exit, the three-time Drama Desk Award-nominated physical theater company) with associate director and choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo. Musical direction by Rob Slowik with clown material created and directed by Joel Jeske. Set and lighting design by Maruti Evans, costume design by Oana Botez, and props design by Katie Fleming.  

As a nonprofit performing arts institution, the Big Apple Circus is committed not only to thrilling audiences in the ring, but also to bringing the joy and wonder of circus into the community. Big Apple Circus creates direct, shared connections inside its one-ring Big Top AND in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, in its New York City home and in cities across America.

"These performers, many from circus dynasties, preserve an important tradition, reinforced by the nonprofit Big Apple Circus's commendable community-service activities, notably the
Clown Care program, which entertains hospitalized children. This company ... doesn't only have awe-inspiring acrobatic skills; it has a lot of heart, too."

- The New York Times, 2014 Critics' Pick

Big Apple Circus Clown Care® brings the joy of classical circus to hospitalized children at 15 leading pediatric facilities across the United States. Performers collaborate with doctors and staff to design a program to fit the needs of each hospital. Members of the Clown Care team bring the healing power of humor to children with acute and chronic illnesses, visiting nearly 225,000 young patients every year.  

Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism provides performances with modified lighting and sound as well as a staffed calming center, to meet the needs of children on the autism spectrum. Inclusion is a core value at Big Apple Circus, which is dedicated to delivering the finest circus entertainment to everyone, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, or economic circumstance. 

Circus for All!® distributes free and subsidized tickets to schools and nonprofit organizations serving low-income children and families, enabling many of them to experience the excitement and wonder of the circus for the very first time.

Circus After School®teaches kids life skills such as teamwork, responsible risk-taking, and perseverance, through a structured program of learning and performing circus arts. 

For more information, visit