Big Apple Circus announces summer shows at Albany Civic Center

Big Apple Circus announces summer shows at Albany Civic Center

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Big Apple Circus (BAC) is coming to the Good Life City.

For the show's 41st season, it is tackling a new task: recreating the famous "Big Top" tent inside an arena.

The event inside the Albany Civic Center will be the first time the circus does so.

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The Big Apple Circus began in 1977 and was set up in Battery Park in New York City. At the time, it included a single trapeze, a dog act, tight rope walking, jugglers and clowns.

The circus has expanded to include aerialists, a free ladder juggler, acrobats and more.

The theme for the 2019 season of the circus is “wonder women,” featuring a female ringmaster, a woman who lifts her husband in the air while wearing high heels and a third generation female animal trainer.

WALB News 10′s Emileigh Forrester got the opportunity to preview the show in Washington, D.C. back in March.

The Big Apple Circus will perform multiple shows at the Albany Civic Center on July 3, 5, 6 and 7.

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m., with online pre-sale happening Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For information on how to purchase tickets, click here.

More than a circus

As Emileigh found out, circus performing is not for everyone. For Adam Kuchler, though, it’s clear he was made for this.

“Actually, this has been one of my big goals,” Kuchler said. “There’s an intimacy that you don’t get with bigger shows.”

Kuchler performs in the Big Apple Circus as a clown and a cigar box juggler.

"The artists that you're seeing are performing acts that they've built themselves," Kuchler said. "It's not somebody performing a role or being somebody that they're not. We are just who we are, and we share that with as many people as we can."

Then, there's Emil Faltyny, a performer from the Czech Republic.

“I’m the fifth generation of circus performers from my country,” Faltyny said.

Faltyny holds the Guiness World Record for the longest time juggling five objects while standing on footplates on a free ladder.

And he, like many of the performers in the show, created his own act.

“I came up with balancing skills on different kinds of ladders. I can say I’m the only one combining different shapes of ladders in one performance, and they were kind of my idea, my creation,” Faltyny said.

You never know

“We’ve always been circus performers, but the Big Apple Circus is where I’ve always wanted to be,” Jenny Vidbel, a self-proclaimed “animal whisperer,” said.

The trainer said she first visited the Big Apple Circus at nine-years-old with her grandfather.

Vidbel said her family has always been circus performers, but the Big Apple Circus has always been a dream of hers.

She has now been with BAC for eight years.

Now, 22 of her 34 animals who live on her farm in New York travel with her on the road and perform in the shows.

“You never know what’s going to happen in my act,” Vidbel said. “There’s no training method. Every animal is an individual. It depends on where they come from, what their background was.”

Most of them have one thing in common: they're rescues.

“Most of the horses come from rescue sites, where, if I don’t pick them up, they’re going to go to a very bad place,” Vidbel said. “(The dogs are) sport dogs that didn’t make it in a normal life, and they needed a job, so now they’re with me, catching Frisbees.”

The Big Apple Circus said it has maintained a no-wild or exotic animals policy.

For guests, Vidbel said she wants them to know how loved these animals are.

“When you come to a performance, do these animals look happy, do they look like they trust their trainer, are they having a good time, that’s the key,” Vidbel said.

Her act includes several horses, several dogs and even her pet pig, Velma.

Defying gravity

The act that closes out the Big Apple Circus brings a special meaning to defying gravity.

The Flying Tunizianis troupe has nine flyers who specialize in trapeze, one of the most traditional circus act — and, it’s a family affair.

Three of the members are brothers. The troupe also features two married couples.

Estefani Evans, one of the flyers, told WALB why she gets in front of the crowd every night.

“I was never afraid of heights. That’s where I feel comfortable,” Evans said. “That’s my comfortable zone. I love to do trapeze, and of course, when you see the audience, that’s when you know you’re doing what you love to do.”

The troupe also features her husband, Ammed Garcia, who the Big Apple Circus said is one of only two living performers to land the quadruple somersault on the trapeze.

Back to the Peach State

Wages Argott is originally from Alabama, but he spent part of his time in college at the University of Georgia.

Now, Argott conducts the live band for the Big Apple Circus.

He attended music school at UGA and said he's ready for the circus to make its way down to Georgia.

Argott, who also plays trumpet for the band, explained that the live band is flexible enough to keep up with the human and animal performers in the show.

"There's no job in music or anywhere quite like standing in front of a circus band, especially, again, with some of New York City's finest musicians, working with some of the finest performers in the world, making this beautiful synergy of art," Argott said.

The band has seven live musicians and has a set of music they play every night.

But, Argott makes split second decisions to direct the band, so they can follow along with the performers and make every show unique.

Real-life “wonder women”

“It was amazing. I was incredibly impressed,” Laura Miller, a mother, said, who brought her kids to see the show.

"I've never seen anything like this," Tylisa Brown said after watching the circus in Washington, D.C.

The theme for the 2019 season of the circus is "wonder women," featuring a female ringmaster, a woman who lifts her husband in the air while wearing high heals, and a 3rd generation female animal trainer.

Virginia Tuells and her husband make up the two-person team, "Duo Fusion."

Some call her the strongest mom in the world.

In their act, she lifts her husband up, multiple times, while wearing high heels.

"There were so many strong females, and it was just so impressive," Miller said. "I was so proud for my girls to witness that."

“It was something different from other shows that I’ve been to,” Brown said.

From trapeze fliers, to a female ringmaster and all the females behind the scenes, leaders of the circus hope they'll inspire the young girls in the audience to follow their dreams.

“They don’t have to be pretty and frilly and someone holding them up and flipping them around,” Miller said. “They can hold their own weight and the weight of someone else.”

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