‘Big Apple Circus’ Legendarium’ at Dulles Town Center by Mike Spain

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Big Apple Circus is not a huge arena hopping spectacular and not a multiple ring show. It is a simple, one-ring circus with a focused program. They create an intimate circus experiencing claiming no seat is more than 50 feet from the ring. In their World Premiere of Legendarium at the Dulles Town Center they journey into the circus past and create an unforgettable experience.

Zhang Fan. Photo courtesy of Big Apple Circus.

The opening Charivari teased the audience, parading what the circus had to unfold during the program. Bulgarian trapeze artist Andrey Mantchev showed off his skills during his solo trapeze act. Andrey drew ‘Oohs and Aahs’ from the audience as he completed amazing flips and catches.

Jenny Vidbel and her Liberty Horses were the next act, and were my favorite act of the evening. I could feel the wind created by the horses as they galloped by my second row seats. The circus had sparse animal acts and was limited to horses and dogs. Jenny returned in the second part of the circus with her dogs performing plate-stealing tricks and jumping through hoops. According to the ringmaster – all of the dogs were rescued from animal shelters.

Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane was an entertaining showman who guided the audience from act to act which is exactly what you want from your ringmaster. Under the direction of West Hyler and artistic direction by Guillaume Dufresnoy the show runs smoothly through the program. John Lee Beatty has created a sparse set within the tent. Obviously there is the ring but in the back is the ring entrance which is created to hold the band. The setting has an old fashioned circus feel to it and adds to the show. Howell Binkley‘s lighting shined spotlights on the performers and acts.

Rob Slowik musical directed an exceptional band above the entrance and at the back of the ring. Sound Designer JP Perreaux made sure the audience could hear the speakers, sounds, and band perfectly during the show.

Mirena Rada outdid herself with the wide variety of colorful costumes. Her costumes were incredible for the period dog act called “Dogs of Central Park.” She had the ladies dressed in period gowns and the gents in top hats and coats.There were skin-tight costumes for the acrobats and aerial artists.

A circus wouldn’t be a circus without clowns. The husband and wife team called the Acrobuffos entertained the audience with their slapstick comedy, and the had a few members of the audience join in during their skits. The clowns were a big hit with the audience.

Elayne Kramer displayed how she could move her body in ways apparently impossible for the human body. She even shot a bow and arrow with her feet while suspended in air. You had to see this talented contortionist to believe her incredible feats.

Aerials were a big part of the show with the contortionist, the trapeze artist and there was much more. There was the beautiful Russian Katerina dancing above the ring – twisting and dancing with amazing control and grace. Zhang Fan dazzled the audience on a slack wire. He walked the swinging wire before performing additional jaw-dropping stunts. At one point he balanced and climbed a small ladder on the wire and somehow he was coordinated enough to keep his balance. There were the synchronized stunts on aerial straps performed by Valerij Sychev and Malvina Abakarova. If ropes, trapezes, and wires were not enough ways to get people in the air there was the Quinterion Troupe throwing a girl into the air and catching her as she performed flips and other stunts.

Balance and grace were not reserved for the air alone. There were jugglers Emily and Menno van Dyke who juggled balls and bowling pins as they danced a tango.  Daniel Cyr went around in circles inside a hoop as it spun around the ring.

The Dalian Acrobatic Troupe performed on wheels. They performed an act full of bicycle tricks which including flipping over each other with and without bikes. They also stood on their fellow riders’ shoulders and leaped from bicycle to bicycle. Some of the stunts were so dangerous that a spotter came out just in case.

Outside the tent they had souvenirs and refreshments which patrons could purchase before the show, during intermission, and on their way home. I took my five year-old daughter with me as my guest and she had a blast. Of course she sampled the cotton candy and found the light-up toy she wanted as her souvenir. She loved every minute of the show.

The intermission was smart as well to break up the action so the kids’ attention span could be recharged, although the acts were so good that I don’t think keeping their attention would have been a problem. It was definitely a family friendly show. My kid looked forward to going to the show as soon as she saw the circus tent. She also left very satisfied from her day at the circus.

So take the family to The Big Apple Circus. They’ll have a blast!

Katerina. Photo courtesy of The Big Apple Circus.

Running time: Approximately two hours and 10 minutes, including one intermission.

Big Apple Circus’ Legendarium plays through October 8, 2012 at The Dulles Town Center – 45630 Dulles Center Boulevard, in Sterling, Virginia. Purchase tickets here, or by calling (888) 541-3750.