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Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts Video Women

Vince Bruce – Trick Roper – A Tribute

Tribute Video for Vince Bruce.

Vince Bruce ©2019 by Dutch photographer Kees Tabak

At eight years old Vince Bruce met early Wild West cowboy star and music hall performer, Tex McLeod who lived down the street from him in England. Inspired then to be a rope twirling cowboy like his hero, Vince practiced rope tricks under the tutelage of his inventor father. By the age of twelve, he had a regular Friday night spot at a local holiday resort.

As a teenager in the traveling circuses of Europe and later in cabaret clubs and theatre festivals around the world, Vince developed his natural style as an entertainer with unparalleled ability as a western arts virtuoso.

Vince first came to the States in 1983 as the half-time act for the Harlem Globetrotters and that same year won every award at the first convention of the International Trick & Fancy Ropers Association.

In 1991 he starred in the Broadway hit “The Will Rogers’ Follies” where he created the role of “The Roper,” portraying Will Rogers on the silver screen of Hollywood. The show ran two and a half years and received seven Tony’s.

While in New York, Vince met his wife Annie Dubats, a singer prominent in Manhattan’s downtown art and music scene. When working together, Annie graces Vince’s act by singing a few of her own songs and some country classics while on horseback.

Vince’s show is unique. I mean, how many British Cowboys do you know? He looks like the quintessential cowboy — tall and slim with a lined, character face. He’s a blast of energy when he comes on stage swinging a lasso in a big circle that spins wildly over the heads of a surprised audience, while the little bits of “business” that he puts into his roping routines make whatever he’s doing irresistibly entertaining.

(Courtesy of Margo Feiden Gallery)

Here is Vince Bruce performing his act on the English TV Paul Daniels Show

Vince Bruce, born April 4, 1955, died September 24, 2011.

Here is a lovely obit from the UK paper The Telegraph

For more information visit his website here!

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A Tribute by A.J. Silver

There are very few people in history who have earned the title “ The Greatest”.
Vince Bruce the greatest western performer to ever live is one of them.
   Vince is also known as the Wizard of Whips and Ropes performed in the most prestigious entertainment venues around the world including Broadway,  Carnegie Hall and a regular performer at The Tiger Palast in Frankfurt, Germany.
  His western act including trick roping and whips but what set him apart was his unmatched skill level and artistry.
He was a true artist!
    Most roping acts were based on technical skills.
Rope spinners would perform their tricks with music playing in the background and often it was somewhat boring.
 Vince took the western act and showed the world how exciting it could be combining his skills with comedy and showmanship.
His act was perfectly timed to the music and the audiences knew they were watching a virtuoso.
Vince also included unicycle skills and performed the famous Bobby May trick in his act.
 The Bobby May trick involved throwing a lit match behind his back and catching it in his mouth followed by throwing a cigarette behind his back and catching it in his mouth and lighting it with the match, he would then cut the lit cigarette out of his mouth with his whip. This trick earned the respect from jugglers and circus legends and  It made him more than a western act, he was a variety superstar.
  Vince’s act had such a high skill level that unless you understood roping you could never fathom that he was performing so many risky feats that a mistake could happen any second. To perform an act at this level requires exceptional confidence and focus and countess hours of daily practice.
  When talking to variety artists who do not understand roping I call Vince the Francis Brunn of ropers. 
Just like there will never be a juggler who can be compared to Francis,  there will never be another roper who can be compared to Vince.
They are both legends who took their art form to another level with original technical skill and artistry.
They truly are kings of their disciplines and have inspired countless performers. 
I imagine every western performer alive today considers Vince Bruce their idol.
  Vince traveled the world performing in the most prestigious stage productions and circuses and then he created a unique rodeo act with his performing partner and wife Annie Dubats.
  Annie met Vince while he was starring in the Big Apple Circus in NYC.
Annie had a career as a singer and grew up working with horses.
They complimented each other and Annie made it possible for Vince to create the act he always dreamed of, spinning a big loop around two horses while standing on them and racing around the arena at a full gallop. 
  Annie and Vince also created an original horse catching/roping act that had all but disappeared from the rodeo.
Annie would sing on horseback, not an easy feat while Vince would perform Mexican style roping while seated and standing on his horse. Annie would then gallop past Vince’s horse and the timing had to be perfect as Vince would roll his loop out and catch Annie and her horse.
 This act would not have been possible without Annie. There is so much preparation that goes into training and maintaining an act like this.
  In the past, Vince could hop on a plane with his luggage but now there were two horses that had to be transported and cared for.
Annie made it possible for Vince to maintain his skill level by sharing the responsibility of exercising, training and caring for their two horses Cochise and Comanche.
Annie and Vince made a perfect team and to see them perform together with their horses was witnessing a lifelong dream come true.

We lost Vince to cancer in 2011.
   He had a great sense of humor and a big heart.
Vince had a huge amount of love for the world and he was generous with it.
He always gave encouragement to fellow ropers and would always offer help. It was hard not to love him back.
 I started my career as a rodeo trick rider and always thought trick roping was boring until the day I saw Vince perform.
My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I was actually angry that I could not imagine how beautiful and exciting a western act could be. 
 I owe a great deal to Vince. It was because of him that I decided to create a roping act.
I always enjoy my talks with Annie who I consider almost like a sister.
Annie is one of the few people I know who understands the whole gamut of Show Business – Broadway, Circus, Stage productions, Rodeo, Wild West Shows. Horse Spectacles ………
 Annie saw the world with Vince and has such a vast knowledge of not only Show business but what went into creating and maintaining Vince’s act.
 There are very few days that go by that I don’t wonder how Vince was able to accomplish the high skill level and artistry of his act and  It truly boggles my mind.
He was Superhuman, peerless and he will always be unmatched – The Greatest.


Spinning a big loop around two horses while standing on them and racing around the arena at a full gallop. Colorado Springs Rodeo

Special THANKS goes out to Joan Henry Houghton (Mutts Gone Nuts), A.J. Silver, Margareta Dillinger (Tiger Palast) and Annie Dubats (Vince Bruce’s wife).

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Categories
American Circus Art Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Exhibit NYGoofs Variety Arts Vaudeville Ventriliquist

Karen E. Gersch – Artist Portfolio

KAREN E. GERSCH

If anyone knows about the circus it is Karen E. Gersch. She has performed, created and directed circus and painted, drawn and illustrated it. Her work is beautiful and captures the whimsical nature of the circus soul. Here are a few choice examples of Karen’s work with her descriptive text.

The ‘Nickel’ in this oil painting, “Nickel Storms the Ring” was my teacher and mentor, Nina Krasavina, a star acrobat, aerialist ad the first woman clown ever to grace the ring of the Moscow Circus. After defecting to NYC in the mid-’70s with her husband, Gregory Fedin, they traveled with 3-ring circuses throughout the US and Canada. Nina and Grefory opened their own school, the Circus Arts Center, in an abandoned department store in Hoboken, which they ran for years, training many acts that had longtime professional careers. 

Gordoon”: acrylic on canvas portrait of Jeff Gordon, whose inventive and acrobatic routines made him a beloved and longtime featured performer with the Big Apple Circus, as well as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros., Walt Disney World, and various NYC theatre productions.

Kenny Raskin/New York Goofs”. Kenny is a physical comedian whose diverse and charming character work enlightens every stage, be it on Broadway, off-off-Broadway or Cirque du Soleil. He is someone I never tire of sketching; captured here during a New York Goofs engagement.

Little Tich” and his Big Boots Dance was a headlining act of the English music halls in the early 1900s. Tich (Harry Relph) was only 4’6” tall, but left large footprints with his eccentric and energetic dance routines, combining balancing skills with acrobatics. The slender wooden boots he performed in were 28 inches long! Relph is considered the forerunner of all screen comedy.

Darja is a Latvian-born acrobat whose professional partners happen to be small dogs and a potpourri of cats.  The setting for her act is a living room, complete with two dressers, a nightstand, and an oval carpet.  The drawers glide open and cats climb gracefully out, then jump in an arc to her shoulders, where they run and balance along with her extended limbs, as she turns walkovers, handstands, cartwheels, and splits.  A dog poses perfectly on her top hat while she executes back rolls and contortional poses.

    Darja performs primarily in Russia and Europe, in circuses, cabarets, and theaters.  Her animals travel with her – in carriers to the stage, but live uncaged in her hotel room, where they all share her bed.  I know, because I had the room next door to her in Leipzig, Germany, and was serenaded by her Siamese and Egyptian cats, who sang gustily all night!

“Richard Hayes”, also a British Music Hall performer, was a noted juggler and silent, deadpan comedian, often billed as “The Laziest Juggler in the World”. His oversized head, languid manner, and slow-motion moves distinguished his ball juggling routines.

This is a very early pastel sketch of Hilary Chaplain (1990’s) from the CircuSundays Series I used to run.  Hilary is one of the most prolifically funny and hardest working physical comediennes, whose recent work has delved deeply into emotional and historical elements.  In particular, her current production “The Last Rat of Theresienstadt” which takes place in the “Ghetto town”/concentration camp of Theresienstadt during the Holocaust.  Following a successful run in Europe, where she garnered top awards, the show will be presented at The Wild Project on November 13th and 14th.

“Senor and Friend”. Senor Wences began his career as an unsuccessful bullfighter before becoming a gifted ventriloquist. The Spanish performer was one of the highest-paid and most popular Vaudevillian acts in the world and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Wences died at the age of 103 in Manhattan.

“Slava’s Snow Show”. I first saw Slava Polunin in Cirque du Soleil’s production of Alegria, back in the 80’s, and was delighted by his simplistic and organic clowning (finally oversized clown proboscis and makeup used well by the clowns who wore them!) His signature romantic imagery, the surreal environments and emotional physical work he creates were resurrected in his first “Snow Show” that appeared on Broadway. This drawing was one of many rendered from his second run in NYC at Union Square.

Born in Prague, Tomas Kubinek and his parents fled the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and settled in Ontario, Canada, when he was only 3.  He fell in love with circus and clowns, began performing as a child and has never stopped, regularly traversing the globe with his imaginative and eccentric solo shows.

Waldo & Woodhead” (Paul Burke and Mark Keppel) were a couple of wild and zany guys, whose character-driven physical comedy and strong partner juggling made them a well known performing sensation around the globe. This painting, exhibited at several IJA Conventions, was sold three years ago.

For more information or to see other artwork, visit:

www.artbykeg.info on FB: “Art by Karen E. Gersch”

With the exception of “Waldo & Woodhead”, all the drawings and paintings here are unsold and available. Inquiries should be made to: keg37@frontier.com.

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Categories
American Circus Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Comedy Performing Arts Photography Story Teller

The Rob Torres Tribute Book

After a year of assembling photographs, quotes, personal comments, essays, and more photographs we finally have a beautiful book to offer the fans and friends of Rob Torres.

The professional photographers that have contributed their work to the book are: Michelle Bates, John Cornicello, Rob Falk, Mark Gardiner, Maike Schulz, and Wednesday Aja. Of course, I have photographs in the book as well.

A community celebration of the life of Rob Torres.

Commentary by Paul Binder (co-founder of The Big Apple Circus), Ernest Albrecht (Spectacle Magazine), Dominque Jando (Circopedia) and Martin Ewen (clown and author).

The softcover version of the book is available here.

 

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Categories
Big Apple Circus Clown Vaudevisuals Interview Video

Vaudevisuals interview with Mark Gindick & Adam Kuchler

Vaudevisuals‘ Karen Jenson sat down with Big Apple Circus clowns Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler to hear what they had to say about
‘clowning’ and where they got their start.

More about Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler:

Mark Gindick is a professional actor, clown, physical comedian, director, teacher and writer/creator of his own theatrical shows. Wing-Man, his original theatrical piece without one spoken word, won BEST ONE-MAN SHOW in United Solo Theatre Festival, the largest solo festival of it’s kind in the world. Mark has appeared in major feature films, including the Nora Ephron comedy Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep; on televison, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and was featured in The PBS mini series CIRCUS; starred Off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in the New York Times acclaimed hit The Comedy Trio Happy Hour; clowned on circuses such as Cirque Du Soleil, Ringling Brothers and the Big Apple Circus as well as teaching clowning at SUNY Purchase College and other New York City venues. Mark wrote and starred in How To Be A Man at the Palace of Variety on 42nd Street (NYC) and Mark’s unique blend of vaudeville, dance, and physical comedy earned him three Golden Nose Awards.

Adam Kuchler is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Adam followed in his uncle’s footsteps and became a clown. Since 1995, he has worked in 43 of the United States and 14 countries around the globe,  in circuses, variety theaters, parks, cruise ships, and once in a bullfighting ring.   He appeared on Late Night with David Letterman multiple times, and in 2012, was honored to be awarded a special prize for clowning at the International Circus Festival in Figueres, Spain.  In his spare time, Adam enjoys playing ukulele and eating popcorn.

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For more information/tickets!

Categories
Vaudevisuals Interview Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Mark Lonergan – Director of Big Apple Circus

Vaudevisuals’ Karen Jenson interviews Big Apple Circus director Mark Lonergan.

Sitting in the tent at Lincoln Center was especially nice with the crew setting up.

For more information/tickets!

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Categories
Aerial Acts American Circus Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Comedy Juggling Music Photography Tent Show

Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center – 2017/18 Season

Ringmaster Tyron “Ty” McFarlan

 

Barry Lubin – Grandma

Joel Jeske – Clown

Jenny Vidbel and her horses.

Gamal Garcia Tuniziani – Juggler

The Flying Tunizianis Troupe – Trapeze

Jan Damm – Rolla Bolla

Wallenda Seven-Person Pyramid – Highwire


The show also featured Elayne Kramer/Contortionist and The Anastanini Brothers.

What a wonderful show this year! All the acts were amazing and the direction was brilliant! So happy to see The Big Apple Circus Back in town!

Today and tomorrow ONLY!

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Categories
Big Apple Circus Circus Performing Arts Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with contortionist Elayne Kramer – Big Apple Circus

BIG APPLE CIRCUS

The great, entertaining and delightful Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center for the Holiday Season! With it are many amazingly brilliant acts that include Elayne Kramer.

Elayne is a contortionist and is interviewed here by Vaudevisual’s  Karen Jenson.

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Here is a glimpse of Elayne Kramer performing at the Circus Awards Ceremony in 2015

And here is a sample of what you will see if you attend The Big Apple Circus!

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Now through Jan. 7th 2018

For more information and to purchase tickets go HERE!

Categories
American Circus Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Comedy Performing Arts Physical Theater Video

Joel Jeske – Lessons in Comedy Performance!

I usually don’t use this space to promote events, BUT this one is SPECIAL!

Joel Jeske is teaching a class in ‘Comedy Performance.’

I sat down with Joel yesterday, and he mapped out the classes and what he would be teaching. I was thrilled to hear all about his theory about comedy, and it’s application in his upcoming classes. I wanted to help promote these classes since I know they will be wonderful. Here is the scoop from the workshops information.

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WHAT IS GOING ON?
Physical comedian and clown, Joel Jeske, is teaching a class. He is teaching five lessons in comedy performance: One a week for five weeks. Lessons will be focusing on character, presence, creating material, personal schtick, physical storytelling, and how to never be dull on stage.
WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR?
It is for any performer or actual person who wants to be funnier.
WHERE IS IT GOING TO BE?
SPACE at 520
520 8th Ave., 3rd Floor
New York City, New York
WHEN IS IT? : Tuesdays in Late February and March
Feb 28th, 12-3pm
March 7th, 2-5pm
March 14th, 12:30-3:30pm
March 21st, 12-3pm
March 28th, 2-5pm
WHAT IS THE COST?:
Early sign up: $60.00 a lesson until February 27th
Regular sign up; $80.00 a lesson.
All five lessons: $300.00 Until February 27th
$350.00 After February 27th
Payment can be accepted via:
• Paypal: jpjeske@yahoo.com
• Venmo: jpjeske@yahoo.comReserve your spot by emailing: jpjeske@yahoo.com
Or by calling: (347) 446-0963JOEL JESKE is a clown, physical comedian, teacher, and director. For over 20 years, he has performed and taught nationally and internationally as a clown and physical comedian and has toured and created material for Cirque Du Soleil, Big Apple Circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, as well as serving as a Broadway and Off-Broadway physical comedy consultant. He has been nominated three times for the Drama Desk Award for comedy productions he created with director Mark Lonergan and their theater company Parallel Exit. Always at heart an improviser, Joel is the only person who got improv guru Del Close to admit out loud that he loved clowns.
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Joel Jeske talks about ‘what is funny’ in this Vaudevisuals interview.

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Categories
American Circus Big Apple Circus Circus Clown Comedy Film Mime Music Performing Arts Physical Theater Story Teller Video

Clown Documentary for American Theater Wing

Directed by Margarita Jimeno.

This delightful documentary shares the love of clown from the perspective of Clowns!

Slava Polunin(Snow Show), David Shiner(Old Hats), Joel Jeske(Big Apple Circus), and Brent Mcbeth(Big Apple Circus) discuss clowning with wonderful footage of their performances.

Help American Theatre Wing with a donation! Make films like this possible.

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Categories
LaMaMa etc Performing Arts Photography Physical Theater Puppetry The Slipper Room Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Vaudevisuals Interview Year in Review

Check out Vaudevisuals – Review – October 2016

Vaudevisuals Year in Review – October 2016

October was another busy month with interviews with Slipper Room‘s James Habacker, puppeteer Jessica Scott, The Secret Variety Society group, a Coffehouse Chronicle honoring puppeteer Theodora Skipitares and some photographic excerpts from my book In/Sights.

IN/SIGHTS – MOORE PHOTOGRAPHS – THOMAS LEABHART

VAUDEVISUALS INTERVIEW WITH JAMES HABACKER – “THE SLIPPER ROOM”

IN/SIGHTS – MOORE PHOTOGRAPHS – DANIEL STEIN

“FINDING SOLITUDE” – AN EXHIBIT OF PHOTOGRAPHS BY JIM R MOORE

VAUDEVISUALS INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA SCOTT – “SHIP OF FOOLS” @ HERE

VAUDEVISUALS INTERVIEW WITH JAMES HABACKER – SLIPPERROOM PLAYERS

VAUDEVISUALS INTERVIEW WITH THE SECRET VARIETY SOCIETY

COFFEEHOUSE CHRONICLES #136 – THEODORA SKIPITARES – LAMAMA – OCTOBER 8TH, 2016

IN/SIGHTS – BIG APPLE CIRCUS CLOWNS – JEFF GORDON

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Exhibition of photographs by Jim R Moore / ‘Finding Solitude’.