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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

As we celebrate The New Victory's twentieth birthday this season, we're highlighting some of the families who have been a part of our greater New Vic family for many years. For these parents and kids, seeing theatrical performances at the New Vic has become a tradition, and over the years they've shared their love of theater with their extended family and friends. This month, the spotlight is on Julia Levy and Ari Edelson, co-founders of the Culture Craver Kids app, and their son, Eliot!

 

Julia Levy and Ari Edelson with their two-year-old son, Eliot
Ari and Julia are starting their family theatergoing tradition early with their two-year-old son, Eliot.

Sleeping Beauty by Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company
Julia recalls bringing her niece to the New Vic in 2013 to see Sleeping Beauty by Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company.
"We love The New Victory," says Ari.

Julia agrees. "The standard of the work presented here competes with the greatest in the city. And we love that the productions visit from all around the world."

Ari and Julia, who share a profound #LoveOfTheater, were exposed to the performing arts when they were very young. Ari began staging puppet shows at the age of four, and Julia performed as a green bug at about the same age. They have been attending shows at the New Vic since 1999 and love the medium because "it's a platform for storytelling and idea sharing."

Ari describes theater as "the most collaborative artform, allowing audiences to create temporary communities that are inspired, illuminated or transported."

Because of Ari and Julia's work on Culture Craver Kids, theater is playing a larger part in their family life than ever before. Their son, Eliot, who turns two in May, is already becoming a connoisseur of the arts.

"We have started taking Eliot to some age-appropriate theater, and we want other families to be able to find more culture they'll love," says Julia. "New York City parents like us need a modern guide that knows the city and knows us."

With their new app, Culture Craver Kids, Ari and Julia are solving the discovery problem for families seeking ways to engage with the arts. "Looking at what's available on Culture Craver Kids, we are so excited for what's in store for Eliot," says Julia. "In the meantime, he's spending a lot of time listening to showtunes and visiting the city's museums and outdoor cultural experiences."

"As he grows up in New York City," adds Ari, "we can’t wait for him to see as much art, music, theater, and dance as possible." Of course, there's one obvious place to start. Eliot had his first New Vic experience in January when he and his cousins came to see Handa's Surprise, and they've been humming the fruit lullaby ever since.
 
 
Culture Craver Kids was developed in consultation with staff here at The New Victory, where we want families to make a habit of engaging with the arts. Culture Craver Kids makes it easier for parents to find those opportunities and discover new ones. Crave events that excite your family and rate culture you've seen together. Available for iPhone on the App Store. Check it out online at crav.es/kids!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
April 14, 2016

49 Circus Facts


With heart-stopping stunts, hair-raising feats, gravity-defying hair and undeniable heart, Bello Nock is back at The New Victory with his third installment of BELLO MANIA! In honor of the storied circus history of Bello's family, we present to you 49 circus facts!
 
 
  1. The word "circus" comes from the Latin for circle or ring. Large public entertainment events, like chariot races, would take place at Rome's Circus Maximus, which could fit an audience of over 150,000 Romans!
  2. A traditional circus is a traveling company of acrobats and performers, including trained animals and clowns.
  3. Nouveau Cirque combines art forms like juggling, trapeze, acting and music without a ringleader, animals or "big top" tent.
  4. In order to execute tricks safely, circus performers have to work as an ensemble—a group of equals without a single star.
  5. Balancing and airborne acts often require three performers: a flyer who performs skills mid-air, a second performer acting as a base to lift or catch the flyer and a third—a spotter—to assist and safeguard the flyer.
 

The ruins of the Circus Maximus in Rome
 
  1. Performers let us know their acts are done with their own signature style—maybe a wink, a hand gesture or a "Ta-dah!"
  2. Clowning is highly physical theater, often without words, that draws on the traditions of Commedia dell'Arte and pantomime.
  3. Charlie Chaplin, one of the most influential clowns and comedians, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and came in third!
  4. Australia has only one full-time circus school: The Flying Fruit Fly Circus! They don't actually train bugs, though.
  5. Cigar boxes are still a popular juggling prop today, used for high-speed mid-air box exchanges, balancing and other tricks.
 

Commedia dell'Arte Show by Karel Dujardin (1657)
 
  1. Legendary screen star Cary Grant started his performance career working as an acrobat and juggler.
  2. Contortionism is a circus genre in which a performer displays unusually flexible muscles and mobile joints.
  3. Funambulism (or tightrope-walking) is the art of walking along a thin wire or rope, usually at a great height. Bello is a particular fan of this circus art!
  4. It is statistically harder to get into the Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College than it is to get into Harvard Law School.
  5. The simplest form of juggling using three objects is called a three ball cascade. Give it a try!
 

The contortionists of Cirque Ziva (New Vic 2014)
 
  1. Sousa's famous march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," was traditionally played to quickly signal an emergency to all circus personnel.
  2. Alongside circus traditions, performers have developed many circus superstitions. For instance, whistling backstage is considered bad luck. 
  3. One circus superstition is that performers must enter the ring on their right foot to avoid bad luck.
  4. For good luck, some circus performers keep a hair from an elephant's tail in their pockets. The real question, then, is what kind of hair do elephant's keep in their pockets?
  5. Once a performer's wardrobe trunk is set down backstage, it's considered bad luck to move it before the circus relocates.
  6. Trapeze artists develop their skills over years of training. Want to try? Consider Trapeze School New York.
  7. In circus lingo, a strolling vendor who sells concession items like popcorn and toys to the audience is called a "butcher."
  8. The Oscar-winning 1952 circus epic, The Greatest Show on Earth, was the first film that Steven Spielberg ever saw in a theater.
  9. A free pass is sometimes called an Annie Oakley—the small hole punched in the ticket resembles sharpshooter Oakley's bullet holes, and Oakley is rumored to have given bullet-perforated playing cards to kids to use as free passes!
  10. Did you know that human cannonballs travel between 60 and 70 miles an hour when they're shot? Flying through the air that fast is like driving down the highway without a windshield.
 

A miniature popcorn vendor or "butcher" in Popcorn for Sale
Photo: Marcus Quigmire
 
  1. Did you know that popcorn, a popular circus and theater snack, has been around since 400 BC?
  2. In keeping with yet another circus superstition, performers never eat peanuts backstage.
  3. John Bill Ricketts presented the first circus in America on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia. President George Washington attended!
  4. The modern circus—equestrian acts, clowning and feats of strength and agility—was created by Philip Astley in 1770 in England.
  5. Italian equestrian Giuseppe Chiarini led the most well-traveled early circus, visiting fifteen countries on five continents during the late 19th century.
 

John Bill Ricketts' Art Pantheon and Amphitheatre in Philadelphia
 
  1. The curtain separating the ring from the backstage of the circus is called the vorgang.
  2. And another circus superstition: Bringing a peacock feather into the circus tent is said to be bad luck.
  3. Barnum, a musical written about P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, premiered on Broadway in 1980 in the St. James Theatre, just two blocks away from the New Victory!
  4. After living in the London Zoo for sixteen years, Jumbo the Elephant was sold to P.T. Barnum and came to the U.S. in 1882.
  5. Like Bello in modern times, Jumbo inspired "Jumbomania", and jumbo soon became a synonym for large. Can we popularize bello as a synonym for gravity-defying?
 

At the height of "Jumbomania", Jumbo was featured in advertisements for all sorts of dissonant products, from candy to baby laxative!
 
  1. Did you know that circus is over 2,000 years old? Chinese circus dates back to the Qin Dynasty of 225–207 BC.
  2. "Happy Cooks" is a traditional Chinese circus act that involves plate spinning and juggling food or kitchen utensils.
  3. In 1971, the first week of August was designated National Clown Week by President Richard Nixon.
  4. There are three types of clowns: Whiteface (the oldest), Auguste (zany and dim) and the Character Clown (Happy Hobo or Sad Tramp).
  5. Social Circus programs attempt to engage marginalized kids in the circus arts, utilizing skill- and ensemble-building as tools for empowerment.
  6. Before graduating to long, pointy weaponry, Sword Swallowers practice their craft with spoons, plastic tubes, knitting needles and wire coat hangers.
  7. Most contortionists are either frontbenders or backbenders, depending on which direction their spines are more flexible in.
  8. Enterology is the practice of squeezing one's body into a very small box or container.
  9. The only full-time, permanent sideshow left in the world is the Coney Island Circus Sideshow right here in New York City.
  10. Looking for local circus happenings? Visit circusnyc.com.
 

Two talented enterologists
 
  1. Is that clown car a regular two-door coupe? No. Circuses hollow out the insides of small cars to create as much space as possible, and then they pile in as many clowns and large props as possible.
  2. A rola bola, or bongo board, is a flat piece of wood balanced on a wooden cylinder. Circus performers balance on one (or many stacked) bola boards for all sorts of acts, from juggling to acrobatics. Make your own!
  3. The world record for the most balls juggled is held by Alex Barron for completing twenty-five cascades of eleven juggling balls at once!
  4. Looking for local juggling events and resources? Visit jugglenyc.com!
 
 
Can you round out our list of 49 facts with a 50th of your own? Share your circus expertise with us on Twitter @NewVictory, #BelloMania! And don't miss BELLO MANIA at the New Vic, April 15 – May 1.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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