Big Apple Circus Set to Feed the Imagination
By James H. Miller
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
While the Big Apple Circus hosts a brilliant array of tricks, leaps, and flips that are certain to make you blink, for Guillaume Dufresnoy, who has been the artistic director at the circus for three years, it’s about what people are able to come away with after seeing the stunts that’s essential.
“To see these people do extraordinary things, children can make connections to their own sense of potential,” he says. “Adults may not think they can jump off a second story, but they may say ‘if these people can do this, then I can do XYZ.’”
“It’s the deepest thing I feel that the circus brings,” he adds.
Both children and adults have the chance to witness the spectacle for themselves when Big Apple presents its final “Dream Big” show in Lake George at the Charles R. Wood Park on West Brook Road, with performances that begin July 14 and run through July 29.
The artistic director’s hopes for what people can walk away with from the circus are consistent with Big Apple’s “Dream Big.” Unlike some other circuses, Big Apple works its talent around a larger creative theme. In this show’s case, the set is designed as a machine that converts all dreams into reality; and while the machine is sometimes defective, the dreams nevertheless always come true.
“The idea was really about how we wanted to show that you don’t need anything to dream or to make your dreams come true,” says Dufresnoy
What also sets Big Apple Circus apart is the tent where the action takes place. Made in Italy, it seats 1,700 and is constructed in such a way so that no member of the audience is father than 50 feet from the performers. It makes the circus an intimate show where the minutest details, down to the performers facial expressions, are on display for all. “It’s the right size between big entities where the action, emotion, and humanity gets lost, and the very small ones,” says Dufresnoy.
When Dufresnoy was growing up in France, he says he was fortunate enough to have parents that regularly took him to see classical concerts, theater, as well as the circus. When asked whether those first experiences of the circus inform what he does at Big Apple, he says he tries to retain those essential qualities. “It gave me a real familiarity with circus art,” he says.
However, Dufresnoy’s actual involvement with the circus happed by accident. It was on account of a girlfriend, a gymnast and circus enthusiast that led him to become an aerialist for a number of years.
Today, rather than doing summersaults in mid-air, Dufresnoy appears to do them as a busy artistic director. Only a month after the premiere of a circus production, he begins work on the next two or three. He starts considering new themes, hiring new talent, attending meetings, collaborating with the director, and booking performances around the world.
Dufresnoy has had a noteworthy stint as artistic director for taking in creative teams and designers that have never worked in the circus before, such as opera designers, which have added a lot of ingenuity and artistic flair to the traditional circus. “It bring us new ideas, and new ways of looking at our art form,” says Dufresnoy.
Yet, Dufresnoy’s job is really a balancing act between pushing the thirty five year old institution forward and keeping up with tradition. “I inherited a gem of a circus, a real cultural entity. It’s important that I preserve the core values of the circus, but also bring as much new talent and new ideas in as possible,” he says.
Tickets may be purchased at BigAppleCircus.org
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