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IN/SIGHTS – Big Apple Circus Clowns

Big Apple Circus ClownsBig Apple Circus Clowns

“1987 – Big Apple Circus Clowns. This shot encompasses the wonder of clowns’ first contact with the audience: hope, innocence, vulnerability, and impending mayhem.”

~ ~ Paul Binder – CoFounder of The Big Apple Circus

(Pictured above top to bottom: Michael Christensen as Mr. Stubs, John Lepiarz as Mr. Fish, David Casey as Oaf and Jeff Gordon as Gordoon.)

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In/SIGHTS – Big Apple Circus Clowns – Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

“GORDOON”

Jeff Gordon was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), in 1954. A former All-American Springboard Champion diver, he graduated from Clown College in 1979 and spent the following year somersaulting over elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. In 1981, he joined the Big Apple Circus, where he worked on the ring crew. He also appeared as a plant in the audience for the Big Apple Circus’s trio of clowns, Carlo Pellegrini (Carlo), Michael Christensen (Mr. Stubbs), and Barry Lubin (Grandma).

Jeff’s first experience as a clown had come as part of the Ringling show, but he felt much more comfortable in the intimate, one-ring European format of the Big Apple Circus. So, in 1983, he became a full-fledged member of the Big Apple Circus’s Clown Alley as “Gordoon,” a newly created clown persona. Mr. Stubbs, Gordoon, and Grandma would be, for the following five years, the iconic clown trio of the Big Apple Circus.

In 1989, in a quixotic attempt to run away from the circus and join a home, Jeff found himself on Broadway, playing The Dean in Bill Irwin’s Largely New York, a role he subsequently played on tour. By 1991-92, however, he was back at the Big Apple Circus, performing in Greetings from Coney Island and, 1992-93, Going Places, a show in which he was the lead character.

Jeff subsequently performed in Asia, appeared with Bill Irwin in the Seattle Rep’s production of Molière’s Scapin, and was for several years “Le Clown Gordoon” at the French Pavillion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. He then moved to San Francisco, where he became involved with the successful Teatro ZinZanni. In 2000-01, Gordoon was again back at the Big Apple Circus, where he starred inClown Around Town with Tom Dougherty.

Jeff later participated in the Tianjin International Comedy Festival in China (2001) and toured with Circus Vidbel in 2004. He has worked extensively in Asia and the United States, and In 2007-2008, he was featured with Zany Umbrella Circus in Amman, at the Jordan’s Children Museum. In addition, Jeff has done many Artist-in-Residencies in the Pittsburgh area, where he now lives.

Thanks to Circopedia for this Bio of Jeff Gordon. A great resource for all things CIRCUS!

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Grandma and Bello at The Big Apple Circus

2009’s BIG APPLE CIRCUS show at Lincoln Center was one of the best I seen in a long time. Bello and Grandma have a great time together and the talent is stunning. With a new ring design and great music it was a wonderfully entertaining show.

The acts consisted of Horses with Christine Zerbini and Sultan Kumisbayev, Aerial Silks with Regina Dobrovitskaya, Hand Balancing Duet with Curtola Brothers and Wheel of Wonder with David Martens. The second act  had a great trampoline act with The Aniskin Troupe and a dog act with talented Regina Dobrovitskaya and Audrey Mantchev, an asian contortion team called The Long Twins, amazing juggling act with Picaso Jr. and the flying trapeze with the Aniskin Troupe.

Bello and Grandma pose for me after the show ©2009 Jim Moore
Bello on the Wheel of Wonder ©2009 Jim Moore
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The Big Apple Circus Needs Your HELP! NOW!

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BIG APPLE CIRCUS:

CASH IS DWINDLING;

AT RISK OF SHUTTING DOWN PERFORMANCE

FOR GOOD!

PLEASE HELP KEEP THIS AMAZING NEW YORK CIRCUS ALIVE! 

New York, NY – The Big Apple Circus, which announced several weeks ago that it was in dire financial condition and launched a $2 million fundraising campaign to Save the Circus, said today that it is low on cash and that unless it receives a significant infusion of funds by Friday, it will have to cancel performances for next season and possibly for good.
“When we went public with our urgent call for help, we needed to raise $250,000 a week over a two-month period to survive.  As of today, we have not met that goal,” said executive director Will Maitland Weiss.  “Several large supporters have made pledges, but those are contingent on our getting much closer to our target.  And so, our cash is dwindling. We are at a point where we are living day to day, week to week. We must raise $600,000 by Friday in order to preserve our circus for the upcoming season and beyond.”
As of June 22, the organization had raised more than $400,000 in cash and a further $300,000 in pledged contributions from its board, ticket buyers, current and former staff members, and others, with $90,000 of that from 900 donors to their online crowdfunding site, www.savethecircus.org. With only $400,000 in cash received to date, cash flow is in critical condition, and unless the organization raises another $600,000 in cash by Friday, performances for the fall season will be cancelled, and it is unlikely they will be resumed in future seasons.
“We’ve been heartened by the outpouring of love and support from our fans, who have made contributions large and small in response to our appeal,” said Big Apple Circus artistic director Guillaume Dufresnoy. “The Big Apple Circus is a cultural treasure that has brought joy and wonder to families and children of all ages and abilities, all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and all income levels for 38 years, and we want to be here for them for generations to come.”
Contributions can be made online at www.savethecircus.org, or by contacting Lauren Braun at (646) 616-6829.
About Big Apple Circus

Conceived and founded by Paul Binder and Michael Christensen to be a leading presenter of live family entertainment and a nonprofit performing arts institution, our nation-wide performances and community programs have made our 38-year history far-reaching and full. Our mission is to invigorate the communities we serve with the joy and wonder of classical circus. We create authentic, direct contact; laughter and delight, under the Big Top and in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools across the country. For more information, visit www.bigapplecircus.org.

This is my post for this year’s great show THE GRAND TOUR! How can we let this Circus leave NY?

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The Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – Clowns – by John H. Towsen

<a href=John Towsen’s CLOWNS book” width=”530″ height=”791″ />

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I had a hardcover copy and ended up giving it to Slava when he came to town with Cirque de Soleil.
John also happened to be one of the coproducers of the First NY Clown Theater Festival in 1983. Here is an NY Times review.

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For more writing by John H. Towsen visit his blog which is devoted to physical comedy. ALL FALL DOWN.

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Capturing Clowns – Dance Magazine article April 1983

Not to get reminiscent about the past but here is an article published in Dance Magazine in April 1983.

Titled “Capturing Clowns”.  Featuring my photographs of performing artists.

Dance Magazine April 1983

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Most of my work at the time was done in studios since I was working a ‘night shift’ job at a photo lab and had access to rental studios.

The first picture above is a studio photograph of MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ award winner Michael Moschen. Juggler/Inventor/director.

Second is ventriloquist/actor David Strassman taken with his friend ‘Chuck Wood’. David has created some brilliant videos and inventions in the ventriloquist genre.

The third picture is one of the first photographs taken of Big Apple Circus founders Paul Binder and Michael Christensen upon their return to New York from traveling thru European circus juggling as a duo.

Portrait photographer Gordon Munro took the photograph of me with the flower.

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2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus – Presented at the Big Apple Circus Big Top

In 2014 American Circus Awards were created by Circus Now and The Big Apple Circus to spotlight particular achievements in the circus arts, while drawing attention to the creativity, diversity, and public relevance of circus to American cultural expression. Honorees are nominated by the Celebration Planning Committee and voted on by a select panel composed of various leaders in the circus arts sector.

HONOREES

Community Impact Award – Cirkus Smirkus

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

Elevating Circus Award – 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.

Evolving Circus  Award – 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.

Lifetime Achievement Award – 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.

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Adam Woolley - Circus Now Managing DirectorCircus Now Managing Director Adam Woolley makes Opening Remarks about Circus in America.

Guillaume Dufresnoy - Artistic Director of Big Apple CircusBig Apple Circus Artistic Director Guillaume Dufresnoy makes Opening Remarks about Circus in America.

Thom Wall - Master of CeremoniesThom Wall entertained the crowd as he MC’d the show.

Preston Scott of Smithsonian Folklife FestivalProgram Director for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Preston Scott presents the Community Impact Award.

Ed LeClair - Executive Director of Circus SmirkusCircus Smirkus Executive Director Ed LeClair talks about the role of the circus in American Culture.

Circus Smirkus founder Rob MerminCircus Smirkus founder Rob Mermin gives the audience a great list of reasons for the circus.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.115Community Impact Award was given to Circus Smirkus.

Sawyer Oubre and Liam Gundach do a diabolo duetSawyer Oubre and Liam Gundlach perform a ‘diabolo duet’.

Duncan Wall introduces the Elevating Circus Award.Author of “Ordinary Acrobat’ Duncan Wall presents the Elevating Circus Award.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.163Dominique Jando received the Elevating Circus Award and talks about how important ‘skill’ is in circus discipline.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.174Brent McBeth, Duncan Wall, Dominique Jando, and Joel Jeske.

 

Anna and Emily Venizelos perform a contortion duet.Anna and Emily Venizelos perform a magnificent contortion duet.

David Shiner presents the Evolving Circus Award.David Shiner presents the Evolving Circus Award.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.256Bill Irwin accepts the Evolving Circus Award with his “Old Hat’s” partner David Shiner to his right.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.264Before leaving the ring David Shiner and Bill Irwin compete with some hat tricks.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.274Bill tries to ‘up one’ on David’s hat trick,

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.290NEA Heritage Fellowship Award winner Dolly Jacobs presents the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hovey Burgess receives the Lifetime Achievement AwardHovey Burgess was wheeled in (having incurred a fall a few days ago)  to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.328Hovey Burgess was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award with Dolly Jacobs presenting.

Serge Akinmov performs the aerial straps.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.391Big Apple Circus’ “The Grand Tour’ performer Serge Akimov performs the aerial straps.

2016.01.05_CircusAwds.056Master of Modern Vaudeville Thom Wall makes closing remarks.

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Celebration Planning Committee

Mary Jane Brock (Chair)

Jonathan Cerullo (Director)

Adam Woolley (Managing Director, Circus Now)

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Upcoming performances by Circus Now at Skirball Center.

Big Apple Circus’ The Grand Tour show at Lincoln Center.

The Celebration of American Circus was directed by Jonathan S. Cerullo

 

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The many faces of Joel Jeske – A review….of sorts~

I have had the ultimate pleasure of photographing and videotaping  Joel Jeske in many shows and moods in many venues over the past several years. I will attempt to post here a collection of images and such to reflect his incredible talents and charm.

Currently, he appears in the Big Apple Circus show “The Grand Tour” at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

But wait…he does not only appear on the show but he also Wrote and Created the show with direction by Parallel Exit’s Mark Lonergan.

Also, the clown material for this show was created by Joel Jeske. He performs the material along with the delightful Brent McBeth.

(these are not chronological)

First. Here is my Clown Un_Mask shot of Joel.

Joel Jeske in the Clown Un_Mask series.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.11.54 PMNext is a still from a video I did of Joel talking about ‘what is funny‘ in Sept 2011.

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Joel Jeske at Dixon PlaceJoel Jeske performing at the New York Downtown Clown Review at Dixon Place in Sept. 2012.

Joel Jeske opens his piece – “I have seen over 16 midgets today and it’s only Monday” by yelling the title at the audience.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.14.12 PMJoel Jeske performing at the AMUSE BOUCHE Festival at The Brick in Sept. 2011

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Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.09.32 PMParallel Exit’s “MOVE IT” show at Canal Park Playhouse in April 2013

Joel Jeske reads from his index cards all the qualities of his likes and dislikes.

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JOELCLOWNJESKEJoel is performing at the New York Downtown Clown Revue at Under St. Marks Place in 2011.

JOEL_Rm17bJESKE Joel Jeske performing in the hysterically funny and successful Parallel Exit show “Room 17b”.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.16.10 PMJoel Jeske and Mark Lonergan of Parallel Exit talk about their upcoming physical comedy workshop in this video.

March 2013 workshop video here.

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Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.03.23 PMBrent McBeth and Joel Jeske in a scene from the current Big Apple Circus show “The Grand Tour”.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.02.26 PM Joel Jeske and ringmaster John Kennedy Kane perform the ‘Red Nose Transplant’.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.04.45 PMJoel Jeske looks quite disturbed in this fantastic version of musical chairs with audience members.

Brent McBeth is seen behind Joel directing the Big Apple Circus Band. Did Joel lose this contest?

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I expect to experience much more mirth and joy from Joel Jeske and hope to have to photograph it as well.

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Do yourself a favor and see Joel Jeske perform live at The Big Apple Circus. Now till Jan 10th, 2016

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Big Apple Circus – “The Grand Tour” @ Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

THE BIG APPLE  CIRCUS – “THE GRAND TOUR”.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.46.30 PMAll Aboard the S.S. Big Apple Circus

2015.10.20_BAC.002The Opening Scene of the new Big Apple Circus Show “The Grand Tour”.

2015.10.20_BAC.304Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane delighted the audience and kept the show moving right along.

2015.10.20_BAC.346Chiara Anastasini was magical in her ability to keep all the hula hoops going.

2015.10.20_BAC.363Brent McBeth and Joel Jeske keep the audience laughing with their “Feeling Hot” routine.2015.10.20_BAC.375

2015.10.20_BAC.364Joel gets a face full of water thru the port hole door.2015.10.20_BAC.369Joel finds an innocent audience member and threatens him with a bucket of water.

2015.10.20_BAC.393Alexander Koblikov performs an amazing ball juggling act.

2015.10.20_BAC.415Alexander Koblikov drops all the balls at the end of his act.

2015.10.20_BAC.417A professional ‘class act’ all the way from beginning to end.

 2015.10.20_BAC.444Jenny Vidbel and Emily McGuire make a wonderful dog act with jumping and running dogs.

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2015.10.20_BAC.471Brent helps Jenny with the ‘jumprope’ for this amazing dog.

2015.10.20_BAC.476Dogs are the best!

2015.10.20_BAC.485The Energy Trio perform a muscularly amazing Handstand act.

2015.10.20_BAC.489The Energy Trio with their balance and strength showing here.

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2015.10.20_BAC.515John Kennedy Kane, Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth all contribute to the “Red Nose Transplant”.

2015.10.20_BAC.524Eric & Jayson Dominguez appear in a thick fog before they climb onto “The Wheel of Wonder”

2015.10.20_BAC.526The Wheel rotates as the two walk inside the circular open path.

2015.10.20_BAC.537Eric Dominguez walks on the outside of the circle blindfolded.

2015.10.20_BAC.550Brent McBeth reminds the audience what to ‘hashtag’ when they ‘tweet’ the show.

2015.10.20_BAC.128Jenny Vidbel and Emily McGuire perform a beautiful “Arabian Horses” act.

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2015.10.20_BAC.150A graceful bow by Jenny Vidbel’s horse was gorgeously performed.

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Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth were clowning the whole evening and singing and dancing as well.

2015.10.20_BAC.631The camel with Joel Jeske hanging onto the tail was part of a piece titled “Istanbul” that was performed with Brent McBeth.

2015.10.20_BAC.643The ZUMA ZUMA TROUPE performed a  wonderful balancing acrobatic act.

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2015.10.20_BAC.664The Zuma Zuma Troupe worked great together accomplishing great balancing.

2015.10.20_BAC.203Sergey Akimov performed an amazing “Aerial Straps” act flying up in the tent.

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2015.10.20_BAC.673Sergey Akimov performed with grace and strength throughout his act.

2015.10.20_BAC.719Joel Jeske with Brent McBeth performed an audience participation “Musical Chairs” that was hysterical.

2015.10.20_BAC.218After the others get disqualified it becomes a battle between Joel and this cute young girl.

2015.10.20_BAC.224Joel is infuriated that he didn’t win the chair!

2015.10.20_BAC.234The Dosov Troupe complete the show with their athletic ‘Teeterboard’ act.

2015.10.20_BAC.735Flying off the teeterboard into the air.

2015.10.20_BAC.744Flying off the teeterboard onto the seat.

2015.10.20_BAC.274 The cast leaves the circus ring after the ‘finale’ and says GOODBYE to the audience.

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“THE GRAND TOUR”

Written and Created by Joel Jeske

Directed by Mark Lonergan

Scenic and Lighting Designer: Maruti Evans

Sound Designer: Jean-Pierre Perreaux

Props Designer: Katie Fleming

Costume Designer: Oana Botez

Associate Director and Choreographer: Antoinette Dipietropolo

Props Master: Becca Bernard

Musical Director: Rob Slowik

Original Music and Arrangements: David Bandman, Peter Bufano, Jeffrey W. Holmes

Clown Material Created by Joel Jeske

Big Apple Circus Executive Director: Will Maitland Weiss

Big Apple Circus Artistic Director: Guillaume Dufresnoy

2015.10.20_BAC.286Artistic Director Guillaume Dufresnoy introduces the show at ‘Dress Rehearsal’.