ShakesBEER - A Shakespearean Pub Crawl!

Do you like BEER? Do you like Shakespear? Then here you go!

New York Shakespeare Exchange (NYSX) announces the next  ShakesBEER, NYC's original Shakespearean Pub Crawl, on May 11 & 18, 2019 from 3-6 PM. The pub crawl begins at The Gaf (401 West 48th Street, NYC) at 2:30pm and moves to 123 Burger, Shot, Beer (738 10th Ave, NYC), The Waylon (736 10th Ave, NYC), and Perdition (692 10th Ave, NYC). 

Check-in is at 2:30 pm at The Gaf. Tickets are $49and are available at:

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4217628

Tickets include performance and four drinks (beer, wine, and select cocktails). $25 "sober" tickets are also available (use discount code "SOBER" at checkout), which include admission only.

It's impossible to have just one! NY Shakespeare Exchange returns to Hell's Kitchen to serve up a fresh, new round of ShakesBEER, NYC's Original Shakespearean Pub Crawls, in May.

The latest edition of NYSX's wildly popular event, themed "The Games We Play!" will explore some of the great challenges, contests, and competitions in Shakespeare's most troubled dramatic relationships, including scenes from Hamlet, Henry IV Part 1, and The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing, directedby Martavius Parrish, Shane Breaux, and Ross Williams, featuring Alisha Espinosa, Brendan Averett, Tara Pacheco, Philip Gregory Burke, Katelin Wilcox, Alex Michell, Aurea Tomeski, and C Bain.


"...a great, boozy, old time, which mixes the best of drunken squalor with the highest of art. William Shakespeare would most definitely approve." 

POPDUST

"By the time the fourth and final bar and beer roll around, the edges of time and space blur, and I feel transported to Elizabethan times when crowds of regular people would gather for premieres of plays we now revere and guzzle beers as a community. Huzzah!" - Paste Magazine

"Whether you're a Shakespearean, a beer enthusiast, or simply looking for an unorthodox outing, the infectious spirit of the Bard takes over for an afternoon." - Plays to See


Produced by NY Shakespeare Exchange (NYSX), a company that inspires conversation and builds communal experiences through the work of William Shakespeare, the ShakesBEER Pub Crawls treat audiences to an immersive dipso-literary experience that harks back to Elizabethan times. But it is the ability of the Bard's timeless poetry to shed light on contemporary issues that NYSX is most eager to share.

New York Shakespeare Exchange is internationally known for its The Sonnet Project (in which more than 1,500 volunteer filmmakers from around the world have joined the discussion by creating short films in New York locations based on all 154 Shakespeare sonnets). NYSX produces at least one mainstage production a year.  In 2016, NYSX produced Hamlet10, in which 10 actors played the Danish Prince, and a stunningly relevant period-adaptation of Shakespeare's epic poem, "The Rape of Lucrece," which delved into sexual violence against women.  This past season NYSX staged a critically acclaimed, smart phone-obsessed Much Ado About Nothing, which plugged into the zeitgeist of fake news and alternative facts.  The company's most recent production, a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, was conceived and directed by Brendan Averett and ran in January/February 2019 at the Secret Theater in Long Island City, NY.

In the coming months, NY Shakespeare Exchange will offer a number of exciting community-based events. The next iteration of their Freestyle Lab series-part performance, part lecture, and part town hall conversation-presented free of charge on May 21 at the 53rd Street branch of the NY Public Library will use the current ban on transgender military service as a springboard for exploring how our idea of those who serve might broaden and change when we consider the experience of trans service members. The evening, entitled "Armor as Strong: Trans Warriors through a Shakespearean Lens" will feature trans actors performing speeches and scenes from some of Shakespeare's greatest tales of military conflict.

www.NYSX.org

CITY PARKS FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES FREE SPRING SPORTS PROGRAMS FOR 1,400 NYC YOUTH AND SENIORS

Instructional Programs Include Golf, Track & Field, Tennis, Senior Yoga and Senior

Fitness Walking in NYC Parks

City Parks Foundation (CPF) is kicking off its 2019 Spring sports programs for young people and seniors this April. From April through June, City Parks Foundation will host over 800 youth and 600 seniors in over 20 neighborhood parks and recreation centers for participation in FREE sports programs. Youth programs include golf, track & field, tennis, and senior programs include tennis, yoga, and fitness walking. Registration for all programs are now open online with limited walk-up registration offered at each site.

CityParks Golf presented with The First Tee NYC offers youth, ages six to 17, the opportunity to play golf at the CityParks Junior Golf Center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The program will be held in two seven-week sessions, running from March 9 through April 28 in addition to May 6 through June 28. The program offers golf instruction for all skill levels at our facility and use of equipment. The Center features a 6-hole par 3 course, putting and chipping greens, a driving range, clubhouse and classroom.

CityParks Track & Field, presented in partnership with New York Road Runners and supported by the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, gives New York City kids, ages eight to 14, the chance to learn the basics of the sport. From hurdles and relay races, to long jump, shot put and javelin throw, this program runs from April 20 through June 8 in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, with sessions once per week. The Jesse Owens Track and Field program introduces novice runners to cross country distance running through runs from East Harlem to Randall's Island Park. This program runs from April 7 - June 23 in Manhattan, and is held once per week.

CityParks Seniors Fitness, presented in partnership with New York Road Runners, is held in 17 neighborhood parks across the city. Seniors Fitness, offered from April 22 - June 14, gives New Yorkers 60+ the chance to participate in free tennis lessons, yoga and fitness walking. All equipment is provided. The program has served over 10,000 participants since it began in 2006 and encourages older New Yorkers to maximize their health benefits by staying active.

Online registration is now open for all spring programs at CityParksFoundation.org/play.

Participants are encouraged to register online in advance, though walk-up participants may

register on-site if space permits. For more information and a full list of City Parks Foundation’s 2019 sports programs, please visit www.CityParksFoundation.org

Generous public support for CityParks Junior Golf Center is provided by the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson. Presenting sponsor Foundation Lacoste (logo) In partnership with NYC Parks (logo) Generous public support for CityParks Track and Field is provided the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, including Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr., and Council Member Mark Treyger. In partnership with Randall's Island Park Alliance and NYC Parks.

Generous private support for CityParks Seniors Fitness is provided by David B. Pinter and Zwicker Electric Co., Inc., Northfield Bank Foundation, and the Eastern Adult Tennis Foundation. Generous public support is provided by the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, including Council Member Diana Ayala, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Costa Constantinides, Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr., Council Member Mark Gjonaj, Council Member Debi Rose, Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Council Member Mark Treyger. In partnership with NYC Parks.

About City Parks Foundation

At City Parks Foundation, we are dedicated to invigorating and transforming parks into dynamic, vibrant centers of urban life through sports, arts, community building and education programs for all New Yorkers. Celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, we program in more than 400 parks, recreation centers and public schools across New York City and reach 300,000 people each year. Our ethos is simple: thriving parks mean thriving communities.

City Parks Foundation’s Spring 2019 Sports Schedule

CityParks Track & Field presented by New York Road Runners

April 20 - June 9, 2019

BROOKLYN

Kaiser Park

Neptune Ave. & Bayview Ave.

April 21 - June 10

Saturdays, 10:00am - 12:00pm

BRONX

Soundview Park

Lafayette Ave. & Morrison Ave.

April 21 - June 10

Sundays, 10:00am - 12:00pm

QUEENS

Forest Park

Myrtle Ave. & Woodhaven Blvd.

April 21 - June 10

Sundays, 10:00am - 12:00pm

CityParks Jesse Owens Track & Field presented in partnership with Randall’s

Island Park Alliance

MANHATTAN

Thomas Jefferson Park

E. 112th St. & 1st Ave.

April 7 - June 23

Saturdays, 10:00am - 12:00pm

CityParks Golf presented by The First Tee

BROOKLYN

Junior Golf Center

8850 14th Ave.

Session One: March 9 - April 28

Session Two: May 6 - June 28

CityParks Seniors Fitness presented by New York Road Runners

April 22 - June 14, 2019

BRONX

Pelham Bay Park

Watt Ave. & Middletown Rd.

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 9:00am - 10:00am

Tennis - Monday / Wednesday, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Soundview Park

Lafayette Ave. btw Boynton & Colgate Aves.

Fitness Walking - Monday / Wednesday, 9:00am - 10:00am

Yoga - Monday / Wednesday, 10:00am - 11:00am

Van Cortlandt Park

Broadway & Mosholu Aves.

Fitness Walking - Tuesday / Thursday, 10:00am - 11:00am

Williamsbridge Oval

3225 Reservoir Oval E.

Yoga - Monday / Wednesday, 9:00am - 10:00am

BROOKLYN

Kaiser Park

Neptune & Bayview Aves.

Tennis - Tuesday / Thursday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Marine Park Nature Center

Ave. U & E. 32nd St.

Yoga - Monday / Wednesday, 9:00am - 10:00am

South Oxford Park

S. Oxford St. & Atlantic Ave.

Yoga - Wednesday / Friday, 11:00am - 12:00pm

MANHATTAN

Carl Schurz Park

E. 86th St. & East End Ave.

Fitness Walking - Monday / Friday, 9:00am - 10:00am

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 9:00am - 10:00am

Central Park Tennis Courts

93rd St. near West Dr.

Tennis - Friday, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Inwood Hill Tennis Courts

207th St. & Seaman Ave.

Yoga - Monday / Wednesday, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Tennis - Tuesday / Thursday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Sara D. Roosevelt Park

Chrystie & Forsyth Sts.

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Fitness Walking - Monday / Friday, 10:00am - 11:00am

QUEENS

Astoria Park Tennis Courts

21st. St. & Hoyt Ave. S

Tennis - Monday / Wednesday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Cunningham Park

Union Turnpike & 193rd. St.

Tennis - Tuesday / Thursday, 9:00am - 11:00am

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 10:00am - 11:00am

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Tennis Courts Meridian Rd.

Tennis - Monday / Wednesday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Roy Wilkins Park

Baisley Blvd. & 177th St.

Tennis - Tuesday / Thursday, 11:30am - 1:00pm

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 10:00am - 11:00am

STATEN ISLAND

Faber Park

Richmond Terrace & Faber St.

Yoga - Tuesday / Thursday, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Greenbelt Park

Brielle Ave. btw Rockland & Wolcott Aves.

Tennis - Monday / Friday, 12:00pm - 2:00pm

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Kick Off Fall with City Parks Foundation Sports Program for NYC Local Youth

CPF logo-01.png

Summer fun is over and school is back in session! 

You can still enjoy your favorite summer sports all year long with 

NYC’s staple foundation, City Parks Foundation. All across the boroughs, City Parks Foundation is kicking off its 2018 Fall Sports Program for young people and seniors this September. City Parks Foundation provides free programs each year to over 12,000 New York City children and 1,000 seniors.

This Fall, City Parks Foundation will host over 300 youth and 500 seniors in 26 neighborhood parks and recreation centers for participation in FREE programs in golf, track & field, street hockey, yoga and fitness walking instruction. Registration for all programs are now open online and in person at each park site.

See below City Parks Foundation Fall sports programming/timeline:

  • CityParks Golf presented by Fondation LACOSTE  and The First Tee NYC  - September 15 - October 28

  • CityParks Track & Field presented in partnership with New York Road Runners and supported by the Randall’s Island Park Alliance  - September 8 - October 27

  • CityParks Street Hockey presented by the New York Islanders - October 2 - November 8

  • CityParks Senior Fitness presented in partnership with New York Road Runners - September 17 - October 26

For more details, checkout the link below

https://cityparksfoundation.org/

Celebrate Thai New Year & Start of Thai Restaurant Week, April 22/29

THE ROYAL THAI CONSULATE-GENERAL CELEBRATES THAI NEW YEAR AND THE START OF  NYC THAI RESTAURANT WEEK WITH A STREET FESTIVAL  AND TRIP GIVEAWAYS TO THAILAND

Weeklong celebration features a Songkran Street Festival, April 22 & 29, 2017 in Woodside, Queens

New York - April 20, 2017: The Thai Community in New York in conjunction with The Royal Thai Consulate-General in New YorkTourism Authority of Thailand New York and the Thai Restaurant Chamber of Commerce of New York, are commemorating the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) and Thai Restaurant Week. An eight-day celebration features a street festival in little Thailand, Woodside, Queens, April 22 and 29, 2017 and special limited-edition menus at Thai restaurants throughout New York City. 


The first and last day (April 22nd and 29th) of the week-long Songkran Festival which celebrates Thai New Year will include:

  • Thai cultural performances
  • Muay Thai showcase
  • A Beer Garden by Chang
  • Cooking demonstrations by Pinto Garden Restaurant's executive chef
  • Cooking competition
  • Thai street food booths
  • Artisanal umbrella painting
  • Dance workshops
  • An art exhibition by Thai Artists in New York (Only on April 29th)
  • A special exhibition celebrating the life and work of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
  • Water blessing Ceremony

To kick-start the event on April 22nd, New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm and the Consul-General of Thailand will deliver addresses, followed by a traditional Thai Buddha procession which will culminate in the traditional water blessing ceremony.

 In addition to various cultural activities, attendees of the festival will have an opportunity to win flights to Thailand provided by Norwegian Airlines, visit the Pop-up Chang Beer Garden, and sample some of the best Thai cuisine in New York City from Yajai Restaurant, Pinto Garden, Topaz and Thai Select.

 To give participants the opportunity to experience Thailand first-hand, the Royal Thai Consulate-General in New York has partnered with Norwegian Airlines to provide complimentary flights for a few lucky winners. For a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Thailand on Norwegian Airlines, attendees of the Songkran Street Festival are invited to post a photo on Instagram using the hashtags #SongkranFestival and #FlyNorwegian. Diners experiencing Thai Restaurant Week should check-in by adding location at a participating restaurant on Instagram and post a photo of their dish using the hashtags #ThaiRestaurantWeek and #FlyNorwegian. Winning entries will be selected by the organizing committee.

 The Songkran Festival Street Fair will take place on Woodside Avenue between 75th and 77th Street, Queens, on Saturday, April 22nd and Saturday, April 29th from 12 pm to 6 pm. For further information, please visit the Royal Thai Consulate General NY page on Facebook.

 NYC Thai Restaurant Week will be in full swing from April 22-29. Participating restaurants will feature a special limited edition Songkran menu to celebrate the Thai New Year. For a list of participating establishments, visit: http://www.thairestaurantweek.com.

 The Songkran Festival and Thai Restaurant Week are brought to you by The Thai Community in New York in partnership with The Royal Thai Consulate-General, New Yok Chang Beer; Tourism Authority of Thailand New York; New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm; Norwegian Airlines; the Thai Restaurant Chamber of Commerce of New York; Thailand Board of Investment, New York; Thai Trade Center, New York; and Bank of Thailand, New York.

The 6th Annual Bayou 'n Brooklyn Music Festival-Brooklyn's Only Cajun, Creole and Zydeco Festival May 13-15, 2016

Bayou 'n Brooklyn and Jalopy Theatre bring local talent together with an amazing line-up of Louisiana musicians for three full days of music, dance, workshops, community jam sessions, and food in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Louisiana-born Courtney Granger and Blake Miller are this year's headliners, and to welcome back long time supporter of the festival, Jesse Lege. Also in this year's line-up are Amelia Biere and Darren Wallace. The celebration kicks off with dance hall bands on Friday May 13, 2016 at 8pm, and the party continues until late Sunday night May 15, 2016. This three-day festival takes place at Jalopy Music Theatre (315 Columbia Street, Between Hamilton & Woodhull, Brooklyn, NY 11231).  Three-day Weekend Passes are available for $60, and attendees may participate in music workshops in guitar, Cajun Song, Country Song, Cajun fiddle, Cajun accordion and bass for $30 each.  Admission for day passes ranges from $25 to $35. For more information and to purchase workshop tickets, visit http://shop.jalopy.biz/product-p/sh-051316.htm.

 

Now in its sixth year at the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, Bayou 'n Brooklyn is Brooklyn's ground breaking, one of a kind Cajun, Zydeco Festival.  Celebrate with a three-day-weekend full of music, dance, and regional Louisiana Jambalaya. Get a taste of Louisiana without leaving New York! Enjoy the musical excitement of Cajun and Zydeco bands and nonstop dancing.  Look forward to community jam sessions, delicious dishes - including Louisiana-famous gumbo served at the Jalopy Tavern - and our famous Saturday Jambalaya Supper.  Learn more about the festival by listening to Radio Free Brooklyn here: https://www.mixcloud.com/RadioFreeBrooklyn/20160210-bayou-n-brooklyn-music-hour/.

 

You won't find a lack of things to do during this three-day festival with the abundant food, brews, jam sessions, workshops, and dancing - you can even get a drawing made of you or your favorite musician!  Have brunch while experiencing duo and trio performances at the Jalopy Tavern, equipped with a full bar and delicious menu.   In the theatre, back-to-back bands will keep you dancing.  Musical workshops begin at noon for musicians of all levels, followed by the Cajun Community Jam outside on the sidewalk. Bring your instruments, no experience required.  

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

The Grandson of well-known accordion builder Larry Miller, Blake Miller, has been surrounded by Cajun music and culture his entire life. Hailing from the small town of Iota Louisiana, Blake, a fluent French speaker and songwriter, managed to acquire a degree in Francophone studies from The University Of Louisiana at Lafayette, and in the mean time founded the popular young Cajun band, The Pine Leaf Boys, and became a member of the premiere Louisiana roots band, The Red Stick Ramblers. He has also served stints in just about every other Cajun/Creole band of note including Balfa Toujours, Les Malfecteurs, and Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole bringing his strong cultural identity and accomplished musicianship to the world. 

Courtney Granger, fiddle & vocals, was born in Eunice, Louisiana. Master fiddler and extraordinary strong singer, Courtney hails from the Balfa family lineage, which is evident in his powerful vocals and heavily Balfa-influenced fiddling. Courtney produced his own solo CD in the mid 90s, which brought him praise from the Cajun music scene, landing him several CFMA awards. In 1999, Courtney joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle. Courtney has also recorded with the legendary Tim O'Brien.

Courtney's endless repertoire of both Cajun and classic country tunes, as well his impeccable thoughtful fiddling and soulful singing, has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers in the world, playing with legends Jason Frey, Dirk Powell, Horace Trahan and The Pine Leaf Boys (4 time Grammy nominees). This fall Courtney will release his long awaited debut Country album on Valcour Records. 

Originally from twin cities, now from Lafayette, LA, Amelia Biere has grown in a household steeped with music, falling asleep to the sound of fiddles and stomping feet as lively barn dances ran late into the night. She was exposed to music and rhythm and the social connection that comes with enjoying music together and now has a well practiced music that resulted in a belting voice  

A native of Lafayette, LA, Darren Wallace started playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and bass fiddle at the age of 15. Soon after, he began to seek out the older musicians in the area to study their style. This lead him to master fiddlers, Lionel LeLeux and Varise Conner, as well as many other great Cajun musicians from which Darren absorbed their music, as well as Western Swing, C&W, and Bluegrass and eventually developed his own unique style of playing.  Over the years, Darren has shared the stage with many of the legends of Cajun and Zydeco music, some of which include Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, Bois Sec Ardoin Eddy Lejune, Rockin Dopsey, and Merlin Fontenot. He spent a number of years as the house fiddler for Randol's Restaurant playing with a different accordion player every night, five nights a week

Deborah Monlux, producer, and pioneerBayou 'n Brooklynin 2011, paving the way for cultural exchange through music, art, dance and folklore. She was first inspired by the music of renowned Cajun fiddler David Greely former Mamou Playboy's fiddler, in 2010 and bridged the geographic gap by starting video-conference lessons with him shortly after. Deborah often travels to Louisiana to participate in festivals and workshops and soak up the Louisiana-born music and culture. She has played a prominent role in promoting the introduction of Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music and culture to a Brooklyn, NY audience by producing performances and jam sessions at venues that include Jalopy, Franklin Park Nyack, Lincoln Center BID, Postitively 8th in NYC, Galapagos Arts, the Atlantic Antic and Flatbush Frolic. She also plays fiddle in the NY based Catahoula Cajun Band.

Jesse Lége, creative visionary, artistic and sound directoraworld-renowned Louisiana accordion player and vocalist, is a strong supporter and creative director of the festival and a luminary for many musicians who are passionate about this special form of American Roots music. Jesse hails from Gueydan, Louisiana and has an impressive track record of more than 40 years of performances, including appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Chicago Folk Festival. He is also a winner of numerous Cajun French Music Association awards, and was inducted into the Cajun Hall of Fame. Jesse Lége, continues to give his full support to Bayou 'n Brooklyn. As a true visionary, and Louisiana native, Jesse is the ambassador of Louisiana-born music and culture at Bayou 'n Brooklyn.

Jim Moore -Social Media Directoris a photographer who has documented the variety arts since the 1970s. His photographs helped Philippe Petit plan his tightrope walking stunt between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 and were prominently featured in the Oscar-winning film Man on Wire.Jim produces a weekly online radio show Bayou 'n Brooklyn Music HouronRadio Free Brooklyn.com every Wednesday at 7pm.

Circus Now and Big Apple Circus In Association With Jonathan S. Cerullo | JSCTheatricals presented The 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus

It was a big night under the big top as Circus Now together with the Big Apple Circus, in association with Executive Producer and Director Jonathan S. Cerullo, JSC Theatricals, presented the 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circusat the Big Top at Lincoln Center on January 5, 2016. For the second year, the Celebration of American Circus boasted an impressive roster of honorees, all of whom have spent decades furthering the appreciation of circus arts in America. Four prominent artists and organizations were recognized for distinguished achievements in the American circus arts.

Bill Irwin received the Evolving Circus Award from his Old Hats costar David Shiner. This award is given annually to an individual whose personal and/or professional contributions have made a significant and permanent impact on the circus field in America, with specific consideration of how the recipient's work has influenced the perception of the circus arts by the American public and the arts and entertainment industry. Irwin and Shiner will entertain Old Hats audiences January 26 through March 3, 2016, with a Thursday, February 18 opening night at The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). 

Circus Smirkus, Vermont's own award-winning international youth circus, received the Community Impact Award from Preston Scott. This award is given annually to a circus artist or organization that has succeeded in harnessing and demonstrating the power of the circus arts for community engagement and social good, and in bringing diverse audiences together through quality programming. Since 1987, the company has promoted the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus, inspiring youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts.

Rob Mermin, the founder of Circus Smirkus,ran off to the circus in 1969. He studied mime with Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux, and clowned with circuses throughout Europe, Scandinavia, and the Soviet Union in shows including Britain's Circus Hoffman, the Hungarian State Circusz, Sweden's Circus Scott (performing Karl Kossmayer's Comedy Mule Act), circus buildings in Russia, and three years (1973-75) in Copenhagen's circus building with Cirkus Benneweis. In 1995 Rob was co-director of Ringling's Clown College.  In 1987 Rob founded the international Big Top touring company Circus Smirkus in Vermont. Rob has authored two books on Circus Smirkus: A True Story of High Adventure & Low Comedy.

Ed LeClair, Producer and Executive Director of Circus Smirkus,has 35 years of business and nonprofit performing arts management experience, holding the position of Producer, Executive Director, or General Manager for four companies.  He has produced the last thirteen tours for Circus Smirkus, presenting over 500 shows. Since his joining Circus Smirkus in 2003, the organization has grown rapidly to become one of the top 100 companies in Vermont. Under his direction Circus Smirkus and its performers have been featured on PBS, "The Martha Stewart Show", "Fletch", "America's Got Talent", and The Toronto Film Festival. As Executive Director, Ed has continued Circus Smirkus' longstanding tradition of cultural exchanges, initiating partnerships with circuses in Columbia, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Cuba, and France. Ed holds an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical/Nuclear Engineering from the University of Arkansas. He studied and performed the Japanese art of Taiko drumming for 12 years and toured Japan with Vermont's Burlington Taiko.

Duncan Wall, Creative Director of Circus Now, presented performer and circus history writer Dominique Jando with the Elevating Circus Award, given annually to an individual or an organization who has made a lasting contribution to increasing public awareness about the beauty, artistry, creative potential of the circus arts through their body of work, with particular attention paid to interdisciplinary collaboration or expression. Jando began his involvement with the performing arts more than five decades ago in his native France, when he first stepped into a circus ring as a clown at the legendary Cirque Medrano in Paris. Later he pursued an artistic and administrative career in both the theater and the circus. In 1974, as General Secretary of the Paris Cultural Center, he participated with Alexis Gruss in the creation of France's first professional circus school, and of Le Cirque à l'Ancienne, which eventually became the French National Circus and is considered the catalyst of the European 'New Circus' movement. He moved to New York in 1983 to join the Big Apple Circus, and served as its Associate Artistic Director for nineteen years. He then worked as Creative Director of Circus Center in San Francisco, California. He is now an independent circus arts consultant and writer, and is Vice-President and Artistic Director of Lone Star Circus® in Dallas, Texas. He is also Founder and Curator of Circopedia.org, an international online circus encyclopedia funded by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. A circus and popular entertainment historian, Dominique has published several books and written many articles on these subjects, both in Europe and the US. The Russian translation of his Histoire Mondiale du Cirque is used as a textbook at Moscow's Circus and Variety State College and GITIS theater institute. He often lectures on circus and popular entertainment, has taught classical clowning at Circus Center's Clown Conservatory, is the International Circus Consultant for Guinness World Records, Ltd., and is a founding member of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, an international circus competition that has been held each winter in Paris since 1977. He has served on the juries of international circus festivals in Europe, Russia, Mexico, and Israel.

Founder & Associate Director of Circus Sarasota Dolly Jacobs presented an emotional Lifetime Achievement Award to Hovey Burgess. This award is given to an individual artist, troupe, or company whose overall contributions to the field and community are substantial, undeniable and significant. Mr. Burgess, recovering from a recent injury, was wheeled onstage by Big Apple Circus clowns Joel Jeske and Brent Mc Beth for a victory lap around the ring. He ended his speech by addressing the audience "If you love circus, then I love you." 

Born in Middlebury, Vermont in 1940, Hovey Burgess will complete his fiftieth (50th) year of teaching circus techniques for actors at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts this spring.  This summer he will hit the "sawdust trail" for his twenty-sixth season with St. Louis-based Circus Flora. Hovey Burgess is author of Circus Techniques with photographs by Judy Finelli.  He has written for TDR (Tulane Drama Review) and Spectacle.  He served as circus choreographer for Robert Altman's film Popeye with the late Robin Williams in the title role.  From Juilliard's Drama Division to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, Hovey's teaching career has spanned the United States, from Maine to California and from Washington State to Florida, as well as Canada and Israel. Previous honors include City Lore's People's Hall of Fame; International Jugglers Association's Excellence in Education Award; Red Skelton Award for Teaching and Mentoring Clowns; Golden Nose Award for Lifetime Achievement; and Burlesque Idol's Best Dressed Award. 

Spotlighting the thriving state of the circus arts across the nation, the evening also featured performances from a variety of breath-taking acts, including aerial contortionists Anna and Emily Venizelos, a Diabolo Duo Act performed by Sawyer Oubre and Liam Gundlach, and Big Apple Circus' own Sergey Akimov on the aerial straps. The evening was conducted by Emcee Thom Wall.

A "Master of Modern Vaudeville," Wall has wowed audiences around the globe. With a sharp wit and sharper knives, Thom juggles, balances, and dives his way through exciting and fast-paced acts that astonish and amaze. As one of the last great American gentleman jugglers, Thom presents an elegant show with nuanced comedy and some of the most unusual tricks seen today. Thom is a complete variety performer, finely tailoring each performance to engage and surprise his audience, resulting in a unique and refreshing experience each time. Hailing originally from St Louis, Missouri, Thom regularly performs internationally. In addition to appearances in Hong Kong and South Korea, he toured with Cirque du Soleil's show Totem, where he juggled for thousands each night on tour across the US, Canada, and New Zealand. Thom has won awards internationally for his circus performances, notably the 2015 "People's Choice" Special Prize at the Riga International Circus Festival in Latvia, the Bronze and Silver medals at the International Jugglers' Association Senior Stage Championships (one of which was awarded for the first mouthstick act ever to receive an award in the organization's 67 year history), and "Best of the Fringe" for his duo act "The Dinner And A Show Show" at the 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival. He has had the pleasure of performing for dignitaries and diplomats worldwide. Thom is a graduate of the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro, Vermont. When not on tour, he coaches aspiring circus artists at NECCA and regularly teaches workshops worldwide.

For more information, please visit: 

The 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus Awards with Evolving Circus Honoree Bill Irwin - Jan 5, 2016

To honor and spotlight the distinguished achievements in the American circus arts, Circus Now together with the Big Apple Circus, in association with Executive Producer and Director Jonathan S. Cerullo, JSC Theatricals, is proud to present the 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus at the Big Top at Lincoln Center on January 5, 2016 at 8pm. Part ceremony, part performance, the Celebration of American Circus will honor four artists and/or organizations that have been prominent in the circus arts landscape in America, while spotlighting the thriving state of the circus arts across the nation, and will feature Emcee Thom Wall, with performances from a variety of breath-taking acts.  Tickets start at $25 and are available online at www.circusnow.org/CELEBRATE2016.

For the second year, the Celebration of American Circus presents a distinguished and impressive roster of honorees, all of which have spent decades furthering the appreciation of circus arts in America.  Sabrina Motley, director of the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival, will present the Community Impact Award to Circus Smirkus Founder Rob Mermin and Ed LeClair, Smirkus's Executive Director.  Duncan Wall of Circus Now will present the Elevating Circus Award to Dominque Jando, renowned circus historian and author.  David Shiner will roast and toast and present the Evolving Circus Award to his fellow clownical artist Bill Irwin. Andthis year we introduce a new award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, will be presented by the legendary Dolly Jacobs (Circus Sarasota) to the legendary Hovey Burgess!

  • Evolving Circus Award, presented by David Shiner

HONOREE:  BILL IRWIN

This award is given annually to an individual whose personal and/or professional contributions have made a significant and permanent impact on the circus field in America, with specific consideration of how the recipient's work has influenced the perception of the circus arts by the American public and the arts and entertainment industry.

  • Irwin and Shiner will appear together next in Old Hats. Called "one of the funniest shows of the past few years" by the New York Post, and selected as a Critics' Pick by The New York Times and Time Out New YorkOld Hats will entertain audiences January 26 through March 3, 2016, with a Thursday, February 18 opening night at The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Tickets start at $45. To purchase tickets for all Signature productions, including Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller and Night is a Room by Naomi Wallace, call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. - Sun., 11am - 6pm) or visit signaturetheatre.org. After an extended, sold out run in 2013, Signature welcomes back Bill Irwin and David Shiner in their award-winning, critically acclaimed production of Old Hats. This production reunites the clowns with original director Tina Landau and introduces their new songstress and comic foil Shaina Taub, hailed as "a young Judy Garland meets grown-up Lisa Simpson" by the San Francisco Chronicle. Using music, technology, and movement, Irwin and Shiner combine their inimitable magic and slapstick to create an unforgettable outing that's fun for the whole family.


  • Community Impact Award, presented by Sabrina Lynn Motley, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Rob Mermin

HONOREE: CIRCUS SMIRKUS
This award is given annually to a circus artist or organization that has succeeded in harnessing and demonstrating the power of the circus arts for community engagement and social good, and in bringing diverse audiences together through quality programming. 

Circus Smirkus is Vermont's own award-winning international youth circus. Since 1987, the company has promoted the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus, inspiring youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts.

  • Elevating Circus Award, presented by Duncan Wall, Creative Director of Circus Now

HONOREE: DOMINIQUE JANDO
This award is given annually to an individual or an organization who has made a lasting contribution to increasing public awareness about the beauty, artistry, creative potential of the circus arts through their body of work, with particular attention paid to interdisciplinary collaboration or expression.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Dolly Jacobs, Founder & Associate Director of Circus Sarasota

HONOREE: HOVEY BURGESS
This award is given to an individual artist, troupe, or company whose overall contributions to the field and community are substantial, undeniable and significant.

For more information, please visit:

A Boy’s Life. Cartoons and Bullets

Given recent barbarous attacks in Paris, I am publishing  an article from Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World about a French boy threatened with his life for standing up for his beliefs. The full magazine, published September 1, and related content can be found here

A week after the murder of 11 journalists at CharlieHebdo’s offices in Paris, a boy at Marcelin Berthelot de Saint-Maur-des-Fossés school in Val-de-Marne, southeast of Paris, published an homage to the fallen in his high school paper. In response, he received death threats in a series of seven brief letters, two of which contained bullets.

“We want your death,” said one letter. “Say your goodbyes.”

Pierre, a French currency trader living in a suburb of New York City with his wife and two sons, attended Marcelin Berthelot and grew up reading comic books by Charlie Hebdo editors Jean Cabut, whose pen name was Cabu, and Georges Wolinski.

He feels particular pain over what happened and a true sense of nostalgia. “They were legends, as famous as Jon Stewart,” he said during a recent interview in a bustling café across from Grand Central Terminal. “I grew up with them.”

Pierre was an avid reader of Cabu’s “Legrand Duduche,” a comic strip that debuted in 1963 featuring a blond and lanky schoolboy wearing glasses — one who closely resembled Cabu. In the 1970s, “Legrand DuDuche” became an anti-authority and antimilitaristic character, and he evolved over the years into a pacifist and ecologist.

Those who murdered the Charlie Hebdo journalists and, shortly thereafter, shoppers at a kosher supermarket attacked the very heart of French society, said Pierre. “They attacked what we stand for and how we express ourselves. They attacked the way the French have designed to live together in religion.”

He is not surprised at the death threats against the young journalist, not because of any ill will against individual Muslims but because of tensions in French society.

While the lycée is in an affluent area, in the same region as the Château de Grosbois, Muslim ghettos are not far away. These areas are called zones d’education prioritaires, or priority education zones, and were created in 1981 to address the needs of disadvantaged and immigrant students — to “give more to those who have less.” The so-called ZEPs have proved a failure, as French Education Minister Vincent Peillon has said. Last year the French government enacted a series of reforms in an attempt to stem the “ghettoization,” according to L’Express.

“The socioeconomic problems are really explosive,” Pierre said. “The norm for teenagers in the ghettos is to hate the West. They don’t trust traditional media, which drives them to social media, where they read ISIS propaganda.”

Pierre would agree with Minister Peillon that the state has failed to craft policies that could help integrate Muslims into mainstream French society. Referring to the ZEPs, he said, “They don’t teach civics properly. Many Muslim students are not given the chance to understand democracy.”

As for the student, he was under police protection as of late May.  A more recent update could not be found.

Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism! Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 11am

Big Apple Circus has joined with world-renowned Autism Spectrum Disorders experts to adapt The Grand Tour for families with members on the spectrum and create a joyful experience for all. The adapted show includes the same world-class artistry as the full performance with a shorter running time, adjusted lights and sound, a calming center, pictorial social narratives, and specially trained staff and volunteers to assure a memorable event for everyone! 

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. 

This special performance, a 75-minute abbreviated show, will take place on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 11am. All tickets to this performance are half price ($12.50-$37.50). For tickets, please visit: www.bit.ly/BACEA15.

"Thank you so much for taking the time to alter the regular show to accommodate children with
special needs. This was the first circus that we were able to take my niece Gianna to and it was all thanks to Big Apple Circus! Thank you again!" -
Preston House
"I did notice some of the changes, like the house lights and the clown doctors, but I was really impressed with how subtle the other adjustments were. I felt like nothing was lost in the performance quality, so for some acts I actually wondered how it was different from the standard show. Congratulations!" - Ladan Hamidi Toosi, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs

For wheelchair or special seating needs, please call customer service at 800.922.3772.

For more information about accessibility at every Big Apple Circus performance, please visit:  www.bigapplecircus.org/accessibility.

The Grand Tour runs from October 21, 2015 to January 10, 2016. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.bigapplecircus.org

Seeing Free Speech Through Pictures: An Interview with Photographer Michelle Zapata

Last week, we featured an article about the e-mag Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World, published by Manhattan resident Sally O’Dowd to raise awareness about the persecution of writers and cartoonists around the world.

A tribute to the 11 Charlie Hebdo journalists murdered in January by two Al Qaeda terrorists, Creativity Is Risky reminds us how easy free speech can be whittled away. While writers in the West are curbing Internet searches for fear of government retaliation, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is getting lashes in Jeddah.

While the magazine’s articles cover a wide range of intersecting issues related to free speech, the original photography is a story in and of itself. Creativity Is Risky art director and photographer Michelle Zapata guides us through it. You’ll never take graffiti for granted again.

What got you involved in this project?

I was completely crushed when I heard the news of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. These murders were such a violation of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom in all its ways. When talking with Sally about her editorial direction, I saw the opportunity to showcase an objective visual that could be touching and also deep in its creative expression.

What was your creative vision?

I wanted to combine various elements and viewpoints from different communities while taking people on a virtual walking tour of New York City. Such is the beauty of the Freedom Tower as it stands tall behind Washington Square Park – the focal point of our cover –or the photo of the Muslim prayer rug at the Met, which accompanies Sally’s piece about multicultural understanding and tolerance. Further downtown, graffiti became a big player.

Why graffiti?

For many years, graffiti has widely been considered vandalism – less so today but the stigma is still there. It is one of the rawest forms of expression and art. In the height of the fight against graffiti, people were arrested, beaten, fined and in some instances artists had physical fights with each other. We have since come a long way. We now have places internationally that are dedicated to showcasing these amazing artists. From coast to coast, communities celebrate this form of expression. This was an art form that many people paid for dearly to pave the way to acceptance and appreciation. In this way, graffiti is like Charlie Hebdo’s satire.

Different snippets from a mural appear throughout the magazine. What’s the story behind that? 

That was a terrific find! The mural is north of Houston and signed by a Mr. Must Art. Two NYU students who said they were on their way to the library stopped to let me photograph them reading Charlie Hebdo.

This enormous piece of art serves as a metaphor for many themes in the magazine.  The bird is a natural complement to Sally’s epigraph celebrating the “deathless inspiration” of the phoenix and its capacity for vision – the very same traits shared by writers and artists. The baby represents hope, while phrases such as “the world is ours” and “love, peace and universal blessings” remind us to respect other people’s right to free speech while also reminding us that we have the power to choose how we want to live with one another. The many faces and eyes in the mural, coupled with the phrase, “keep your eyes open” serve as a metaphor for government surveillance, which we talk about in the latter part of the magazine.

We noticed the prevalence of the Protect Your Magic sticker and the Protect Yo Heart stencil.  Are stickers and stencils emerging as another street form? Yes, stickers are becoming quite popular among young artists because they are inexpensive to produce and easy to place around town. Stencils have been used for years although they are still considered vandalism. We happened across “Protect your magic” and “Protect yo heart” throughout the day – we couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to summarize the magazine’s free speech mantra. We continue to find the Protect Yo Heart stencil in a variety of colors all over the city. For us, it’s a good omen.

What is the message you want people to walk away with?

The only way to eradicate ignorance is through education, and that was Sally’s main goal. She wanted to educate people about the threats to free speech in general and also ask people to know the facts underlying a satirist’s work. It was my hope to illustrate and support the stories with interesting visuals that would make people think beyond the obvious, which is exactly what satire aims to do. All of the images I shot for Creativity Is Risky were with the idea of bringing awareness to an unjust situation. If we silence our creativity or forms of expression because of someone’s discontent we will limit our divine potential.  Let’s stop placing limits on our freedoms and celebrate our expressions of it! Let’s learn acceptance and tolerance worldwide. Let’s evolve.

How can people support your message?

People can find the magazine at www.sallyodowd.com and click on the link to Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World. They can share the entire publication or a specific article. They are welcome to comment on Sally’s site and share their views on their social channels using #freespeech and #creativityisrisky hashtags. Sally tweets from @sallyodowd and her public Facebook page is Sally On Media – those are good places to stay up to date on the issue.

For more info and to share content, please visit O’Dowd’s blogTwitter andFacebook.

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

SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH VISION OR HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

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 www.bigapplecircus.org/circus-of-the-senses 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 bit.ly/BACCOS-E15.

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: www.bigapplecircus.org/accessibility.

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 www.bigapplecircus.org.

"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 www.bigapplecircus.org

New Yorkers Speak Out About Press Freedoms

charliedoorway "Image Credit: Michelle Zapata"

charliedoorway "Image Credit: Michelle Zapata"

Persecution of writers and journalists abounds in our society, including the murder of 11 people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by two Al Qaeda terrorists for their cartoons of Muhammad; the jailing of Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran for his involvement with The Daily Show; and the torture of Raif Badawi, the founder of the internet discussion group Free Saudi Network, who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

Several New Yorkers have collaborated to raise awareness about these and other examples of how writers, journalists and cartoonists suffer at the hands of extremists and also democratic governments with surveillance programs, including the United States.

Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World is a multimedia e-magazine featuring original reporting, personal essays, an interactive map on press freedoms, videos and music. It tells a story both sad and hopeful about the state of free speech around the world.

“Creativity Is Risky is designed to educate and engage people around the world on issues related to free speech—from violent threats to the more subtle, everyday challenges,” says Manhattan resident and publisher Sally O’Dowd.

O’Dowd’s Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn teammates include:

cover page charlie hebdo -   "Image Credit: Michelle Zapata"

cover page charlie hebdo -  "Image Credit: Michelle Zapata"

  • Michelle Zapata, a producer and art director for U.S. Spanish-language consumer magazines
  • Communications executives Jon Porcasi, e-magazine producer and graphic designer; and Marian Berelowitz, who provided editorial guidance and served as copy editor
  • Emmanuel Letouzé (Manu), a French cartoonist and development economist, who analyzes Charlie Hebdo’s mission
  • Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of free expression programs at literary human rights organization PEN American Center, who provided insight on the adverse impact of government surveillance programs on writers
  • Singer-songwriter Chaz Langley, whose songs relate to the magazine’s themes of free expression and resilience of writers who stand up to persecution.
“Our team invites readers to engage in the conversation on this essential human right by using the hashtags #creativityisrisky and #freespeech,” O’Dowd says. “Our team is passionate about this issue, and we want to hear from readers. Where do you see free speech being celebrated or curtailed? Help us create a #freespeech movement.

For more info and to share content, please visit O’Dowd’s blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Big Apple Circus Returns to Lincoln Center with the World Premiere of The Grand Tour

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! Tickets start at $25, and the show runs from October 21, 2015 to January 10, 2016. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.bigapplecircus.org

The GrandTour 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 their own whirlwind adventure, accompanied by the live, seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band at each of more than 100 performances. 

"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 offers a specially adapted performance of the show, Circus of the Senses, for children and adults with vision or hearing impairments and/or other disabilities. American Sign Language interpreters are positioned in spotlights throughout the tent, and wireless audio headsets transmit a live audio play-by-play description of the action in the ring. Braille or large-print descriptive programs are available for audience members. A "touch session" after the show 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. 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 www.bigapplecircus.org

The School of American Ballet's Workshop Performance Benefit 2015 Raised More Than $890,000

The School of American Ballet's Workshop Performance Benefit 2015 on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 raised more than $890,000 for scholarships and school programs. The evening began with cocktails at 5:30pm in Juilliard's Morse Hall, followed by the performance at 7pm in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Lincoln Center, and concluded with a seated dinner at 9pm at the Mandarin Oriental. The evening celebrated the legendary Rudolf Nureyev and commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Scholarship

"We are thrilled to announce that this year's Workshop Performance Benefit was a huge success," said Margie Van Dercook, executive director of The School of American Ballet.  "The tremendous generosity of our attendees made our first live auction an exciting and fruitful endeavor."

The performance was attended by nearly 700 guests, and was followed by a seated dinner at the Mandarin Oriental. The dinner was attended by nearly 500 patrons, including the School's board members and alumni, as well as leaders from the New York corporate and social communities. 

Notable attendees included: Chairmen Michele Barakett, Linda S. Daines, Hillary Lane Hochberg, Nell Kleinschmidt, and Max R. Shulman; Corporate Chairmen Alexandra and John Galantic; and Young Patron Chairman: Stephanie Anna Linka; Jenny and John Paulson, Julia and David Koch, Coco and Arie Kopelman, Sasha and John Galantic, Laura and Will Zeckendorf, Jean Shafiroff, Emily and John Rafferty, Susan Pilarre and Chip Zien, Suki Schorer, Jonathan Stafford, Ashley Bouder, Peter Martins and Darci Kistler, Jill Kargman, Kay Mazzo, Craig Hall, Troy Schumacher, Lourdes Lopez, George Skoras, and James Lipton.

This year's benefit celebrated the legendary Rudolf Nureyev and commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Scholarship. At the peak of his career, Mr. Nureyev spent many hours in SAB's classrooms, polishing his technique alongside SAB's students in Stanley Williams's acclaimed advanced men's class. In 1994, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation generously presented the School with funding for an annual scholarship to support promising students in honor of Mr. Nureyev's affinity for SAB and Mr. Williams's teaching.

In 1964, Alexandra Danilova, George Balanchine's former classmate at the Imperial Ballet and a leading ballerina of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo joined SAB's faculty. In 1965, Madame Danilova established SAB's annual year-end Workshop Performances, giving the School's advanced students an opportunity to participate in professionally staged, publicly performed productions of classic ballet works. Since its inception, the Workshop Performances have seen hundreds of SAB's advanced students make their public debut as they prepare to leave SAB and go on to dance on the world's top stages. The New York Times coined Workshop a "spot-them-before-they-are-stars showcase". Scores of notable SAB alumni have performed at Workshop, including Merrill Ashley, Peter Boal, Maria Kowroski, Lourdes Lopez, Sara Mearns, Benjamin Millepied, Ethan Stiefel, and Wendy Whelan.

The post-performance dinner has evolved through the years, from an intimate gathering hosted by SAB co-founder Lincoln Kirstein at his Gramercy Park townhouse into a festive fundraiser held in the SAB studios. The continued success of the Workshop Performance Benefit led SAB to the use of another wonderful New York venue.The post-performance dinner took place in the magnificent ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental with the City's iconic skyline as a backdrop.

The 2015 Workshop Performances program included 19th & 20th Century Masters (Petipa, Bournonville, Balanchine & Robbins); Harlequinade ("Ballabile des Enfants"), Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Riccardo Drigo; William Tell (pas de deux), Choreography by August Bournonville, Music by Gioachino Rossini; The Sleeping Beauty (pas de deux), Choreography by Peter Martins (after Marius Petipa),Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky; Valse-Fantaisie, Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Mikhail Glinka; Stars and Stripes (3rd Regiment "Thunder and Gladiator"), Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Hershy Kay; and Fanfare,Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Music by Benjamin Britten.

Crowdfunding for MFA, in pursuit of the American Dream

Tuition fees in American Universities, hit (and often pierce) the roof. Ivy League schools are generally ranked amongst the best universities worldwide and usually accept a tiny percentage of international students. So what would happen if an Italian talented girl, in her early twenties, got accepted by one of these colleges, but couldn’t be able to afford it? 

Her creativity would run to her rescue. Since the digital era is characterized by projects or ventures that can be accomplished by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people via the internet, why not use crowdfunding to invest in education?

This is how Federica Belletti - a twenty-four year old from a tiny town in Italy called Monte Urano - intends to pursue her American Dream. She has been accepted for the extremely prestigious and selective MFA Program in Creative Producing at Columbia and she has started her campaign through GoFundMe to raise the required $80,000, to grasp the opportunity that is being given to her.

Federica is no stranger to the New York, since she spent a year as an au pair in a New Jersey family to improve her English, and whenever she had the chance she would commute to the Big Apple to follow all the film events in town. She is adamant in the way this experience would be life changing for her: “This institution offers me a variety of opportunities that I would never dream of in Italy. I would actually have the chance to bring to my hometown a know-how that is currently lacking,” she explains.

Federica quotes the Italian cinematic masterpiece by Giuseppe Tornatore to exemplify her situation, “In Cinema Paradiso Alfredo tells Totò «Go away and never come back» and Totò leaves Sicily and accomplishes himself in Rome. Nowadays New York is the place for budding filmmakers.” In her video message she explains thoroughly what Fede’s Mission For Columbia is all about. Donating money for a young dreamer’s tuition fees means investing in the future, and as one of the Founding Fathers of the land of the American Dream - Benjamin Franklin - once said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

GoFundMe: http://www.gofundme.com/Fede-Columbia 

Federica Belletti’s video message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPVSBmpaM2w&feature=youtu.be

Dance Against Cancer An Evening to Benefit the American Cancer Society Raised More than $243,000

The 5th Annual Dance Against Cancer was held on Monday, April 27, 2015. The event had over 500 guests attend and raised more than $243,000 for the American Cancer Society that will benefit research initiatives and patient and family service programs.
 

Attendees included: Christopher Abbott, Stella Abrera, Jody Arnhold, The Bommer Family, Stuart H. Coleman, Herman Cornejo, Leanne Cope, Diana DiMenna, Joseph Doherty, Robert Fairchild, Nikki Feirt Atkins, Lynne Goldberg, Sarah Goocher, Carol Gray, Brandon Gross, Julia Gruen, Judith Hoffman, Lauren Josey, Maria Kowroski, Karen Lacy, James Lipton, Phil Livingston, Lar Lubovitch, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Sasha Radetsky, Amar Ramasar, Desmond Richardson, Matthew Rushing, Erica Sabatini, Robert Schulman, Taylor Stanley, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Twyla Tharp, Daniel Ulbricht, Carmen Marc Valvo, Heather Watts, Damian Woetzel, Doreen Weisfuse. 

Baron Tequila, Brooklyn Brewery, GuS Grown-up Soda, Hearth Restaurant, Kessler Wine & Spirits, The Natural Gourmet Institute, Patron Tequila, Vitae, and Wolffer Estate Vineyards, served as food and beverage sponsors, with additional food provided by FoodMatch, Inc., Marin French Cheese, Laura Chenel's Cheese. 

The evening's performance, produced by New York City Ballet's Daniel Ulbricht and Manhattan Youth Ballet's Erin Fogarty Bittner, featured New York City Ballet's Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Robert Fairchild, Amar Ramasar, Taylor Stanley, Daniel Ulbricht; American Ballet Theatre's Stella Abrera, Herman Cornejo; Alvin Ailey's Matthew Rushing; as well as Desmond Richardson, and Sasha Radetsky, among others.

THE NYAFF PRESENTS OPENING NIGHT PRESENTATION OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN FILM NOIR ‘COLD HARBOUR’

THE NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS OPENING NIGHT PRESENTATION OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN FILM NOIR ‘COLD HARBOUR’

WHAT:    Opening Night of the 22nd New York African Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) and organized under the banner of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024). The initial leg of this year’s festival runs May 6–12 at FSLC and features a diverse crop of 15 features and 13 short films from Africa and the Diaspora. The NYAFF continues throughout May at the Cinema at the Maysles Documentary Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek. The festivities take place as AFF marks its 25th anniversary. 

Directed by Carey McKenzie, Cold Harbour pits township cop Sizwe—Tony Kgoroge, who won Best Actor at the 2014 Durban International Film Festival for the role—against a seedy underworld of criminals and fellow cops in his quest to investigate a smugglers’ turf war. The Opening Night reception will follow at the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theater. 

WHO:    Isaach de Bankolé (supporting actor, Run); NYAFF directors Carey McKenzie (Cold Harbour), Dare Fasasi (Head Gone),Teddy Goitom (Afripedia Series), Nicole Mackinlay Hahn (Burkina, All About Women), Sandra Krampelhuber (100% Dakar – More Than Art), Nova Scott-James (Handmade in Thamaga); 
Mahen Bonetti, NYAFF founder and executive director of African Film Festival, Inc., Lesli Klainberg, FSLC executive director

http://www.africanfilmny.org/

http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/new-york-african-film-festival-2015

THE ACADEMY PRESENTS “AN ANIMATION SHOWCASE: FROM CELLULOID TO CGI” IN NEW YORK

There were days when animation happened on papers, by drawing. Artists sat for hours and draw the pictures, by hand, each and every frame, before they could be put in motion for our eyes. Then came time of "stop motion animation", putting and moving objects. Much harder than it actually seems. But with the invention of computers, things started changing. But did it really become easier? Or much more complex, creating and generating true to life images. Or bringing to life things that we could just imagine. As a kid, we just enjoyed all those cartoons, animation and stuff but now you may wonder how those marvels really come true. Well, now you can learn about it!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present “An Animation Showcase: From Celluloid to CGI,” an animation series that takes place April 24 – May 29, 2015, in New York.  Aimed at highlighting the techniques that make up the craft of animation, the program will use a variety of panels and screenings to explain and explore hand-drawn, stop-motion and CGI animation.

The series will open with a presentation featuring the animation studio LAIKA’s creative team behind the Academy Award-nominated “Coraline” (2009), “ParaNorman” (2012) and “The Boxtrolls” (2014).  The showcase will also include an anniversary screening of Disney’s “Pinnochio,” a conversation with members of Blue Sky Studios about their CGI work, a program on the history of silent animation in New York, and will close with a sneak preview of Disney-Pixar’s upcoming film “Inside Out.”

For up to date information on “An Animation Showcase: From Celluloid to CGI,” and to purchase tickets please visit our event pages:

https://www.oscars.org/events/animation-showcase-celluloid-cgi

April 24: The Nuts and Bolts of Stop Motion: The Artistry and Ingenuity of LAIKA

May 9: The 75th Anniversary Screening of  PINOCCHIO

May 12: The Anatomy of an Animation Studio: An Evening with Blue Sky

May 19: The History of Silent and Early Sound New York Animation

May 29: A Sneak Peek of Disney-Pixar’s INSIDE OUT (at the School for the Visual Arts)