nytheatre.com review by Rohana Elias-Reyes
October 27, 2010
The Big Apple Circus's current show Dance On! at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park is a succession of dazzling acts from around the world. Though the universality of dance as an over-arching theme seems a somewhat nebulous afterthought—who cares? The amazing international acts speak for themselves about the limitless possibilities of human physicality to communicate without words.
What makes the Big Apple particularly special is its intimate one-ring tent, where everyone has a great seat close to, and in some cases part of, the action. That means kids are close enough to feel like they can nearly touch animal trainer Jenny Vidbel's one dozen beautiful tiny white ponies and watch in open-mouthed awe as aerialist Regina Dobrovitskaya flips and spins on a rope over their heads or the five young women of the X Rose Bud Troupe contort themselves into lovely living sculptures. Mommies and daddies are close enough to relive their own childhood dreams of joining the circus as they watch the astounding feats of the acrobats Andrey Mantchev and The Kenyan Boys, juggler Girma Tshehai, and the show-stopping One Dream Lasso act of the Wuqiao Acrobatic Troupe.
However, despite all the wonders of the acrobats and Ann Hould-Ward's glitzy colorful costumes, my kids' favorite acts were the old-fashioned physical bits of the clowns. They laughed with delight as "Grandma" tried to climb up a slide to answer the phone, and when Rob Torres "injured" himself and got a mommy from the audience to kiss his boo-boos, and they were thrilled when Grandma came out to mingle with the audience and pose for photos during intermission, so they got to have their picture taken together. ("He's a man!" – Ah, yes an evening of all sorts of discoveries).
In a rare moment of sibling unity, they agreed they would probably both be clowns when they grew up. Me, I still dream of being an aerialist. That is the beauty of the circus; while theatre may hold a "mirror up to nature," a visit to the Big Apple Circus's Dance On! opens a window into a fantasy world, where people really can do almost anything they can imagine.