Big Apple Circus brings Times Square to Cunningham Park
by Chase Collum
May 20, 2014 | 728 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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After touring seven cities for the past seven months, the Big Apple Circus is back in Queens for the final showing of Luminocity, its program for the 2013-2014 season.

John Kennedy Kane, the ringmaster of the intimate, one-ring circus for the past two years, explained that the theme of Luminocity centers on Times Square, a place that has inspired wonder for decades.

Kane credits the quality of the Big Apple Circus performances to the talent it is able to attract, including the circus’ clown, Rob Torrez.

“I’ve been in the circus 30 years, and he’s probably the best clown I’ve ever encountered,” said Kane.

Franco Gordillo, who attended the opening day performance with his son and daughter, said that he was thrilled to become a part of the show when Torrez pulled him from the crowd to become part of his act.

“It’s a great show period, but to actually be part of it and be brought out there with my kids watching, it’s pretty cool,” Gordillo said.

Also touring with Big Apple Circus are talents including Daniel Cyr, circus industry veteran and inventor of the Cyr Wheel, and Ty Tojo, who at 16 years old is already in the Guinness Book of World Records for his skills with five and seven ball juggling.

In an exclusive, members-only event after the opening day performance, Tojo gave a special demonstration of his juggling skills, in which he was able to successfully handle nine balls at once, an astounding feat in the juggling world.

“Dick Franco is my stepdad, and he’s a professional juggler. He wanted me to do something with my time, so he started me juggling” Tojo said, adding that he practices his technique several hours every day. “I was eight years old at the time, so I’ve been juggling half my life.”

According to Phil Thurston, director of public relations for Big Apple Circus, all proceeds from the performances support the organization’s not-for-profit arm and its multiple community outreach programs.

Programs include Clown Care, a hospital visitation program that operates in 14 hospitals on the East Coast; Circus of the Senses, a special circus performance for the vision and hearing impaired; Circus After School, which fills the gap between the end of the school day and the end of the work day with a positive, hands-on learning environment; and Circus for All, which provides free and discount tickets to children who want to see the circus but whose families can’t afford the expense.

Since most of the performers only stay with Big Apple for a single season, according to Kane, as soon as Luminocity is wrapped up on June 15, preparations will begin for the upcoming 2014-2015 season’s theme of Metamorphosis.

Kane, who stepped in after 25-year Big Apple veteran Grandma the Clown’s retirement, will be staying on as ringmaster for at least another year.

“This is the finest circus that I’ve ever been on, they treat it like an art,” Kane said. “I’ve been on shows we play seven towns in a week, this circus does seven towns in a year. So we really do spend a lot of time in the communities we visit.”

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