One of my dreams has been to run away and join the circus, but to Jenny Vidbel her grandfather actually did that. At the age of 12, he went off and joined the Ringling Brothers Circus. Jenny Vidbel is a third generation circus performer and animal trainer. She took time from her busy schedule to share with me her thoughts of life inside the arena.
The Big Apple Circus is bit old school in their approach; they actually want their audiences to have an intimate experience. Folks can smell the animals and see the expressions of the performers where no seat is further than fifty feet away from the action. In an age of IMAX 3D theatre and big show rock concerts, it is a type of entertainment that requires no special glasses or big fancy surround sound speakers, for a few hours you are transformed into a magical world.
Jenny is getting settled into life at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta where she gets to live on site in a trailer city. There is part of a convoy of a hundred or so folks in the traveling Big Apple Circus who claims to be the best of the best in the circus world. Their last stop was in New York City and she shared that it was in the perfect spot right next to Lincoln Center, next to the Met Opera in prime real estate.
As to life on the road, she shares that the biggest challenge is always being on the move, but in an extended stay in the visiting town she gets to settle in quickly and check out the local sites.
Jenny enjoys the family type of atmosphere with her fellow circus crew and best of all is getting to work with animals. This Big Apple Circus show will feature dogs and horses. Of the dogs used, most are rescue dogs that have been given a second chance to showcase their talents.
As to training the animals, Jenny stated that she “only works with ones that want to be trained and enjoy it”. She has worked with elephants and exotic animals like bears and mountain lions. In working with elephants she says they are very smart, protective and bond easily with their trainers.
Since the Big Apple Circus changes their show every year, she is already working on routines that she may use for next year’s show. As to the training process she stated that usually she has a sketch in her mind but checks out what the animal has fun with and uses that instead of being single minded in a particular arrangement.
When asked “why should someone go to the Big Apple Circus?” She happily shared that “there is something for everyone and it is perfect for families to spend quality time at an affordable price.”
So get a chance to enjoy the magic of the circus and go check out the Big Apple Circus.
I can’t wait and maybe I might just stay and run off with the Big Apple Circus, but then again I am sure they probably have too many clowns on staff.
Performances of LEGENDARIUM begin on Friday, February 1st and run for 28 shows through Monday, February 18th (Presidents Day) under the Big Top in Parking Lot A of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park (enter via West Gate at 1775 Founders Parkway, off Old Roswell Road), in Alpharetta, GA 30009. This is the third stop on the Big Apple Circus tour, following its world premiere at Dulles Town Center, VA, and annual engagement at New York’s Lincoln Center. Tickets for LEGENDARIUM start at $20 and are available at www.bigapplecircus.org or by calling (888) 541-3750. The Circus Box Office, located in front of the Big Top, opens Thursday, January 31st; there is no service charge for tickets purchased at the box office. Hours of operation: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM, and Sunday through Monday from 10 AM to 6 PM. For more ticket information, group sales, inquiries about wheelchair–accessible seating or for additional information please call the Ticket Info Line at (800) 922-3772.
The Big Top is heated in cold weather and air–conditioned in warm, for all–season comfort! The show runs for just over 2 hours, including a 15 minute intermission
Rain and Fire in Sedona
A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography.
What to do, what to do.
Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!
The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.
When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold.
We were about to become glass blowers!
Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.
Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”
Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.
Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.
Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.
Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.
They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor.
Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing!
Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.
If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!
How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!
Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando
I owe him a poem:
Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town.
He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.
He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.
He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make
There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.
Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.
He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too
Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.
Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.
Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:
If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out.
The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.
I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius!
Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.
“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.
The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.
The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.
“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.
John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!
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