FYI Vol. IV, No. 2

 Worldwide Circus Summit 2015 Promises Lots of Attractions

 Even if you have attended all of the CFA conventions for the past 50 years, the planning committee promises that you have never seen anything like the upcoming Worldwide Circus Summit 2015, (WCS 2015) which will be an unprecedented gathering of circus affinity groups from across the country and around the globe.  This first ever event will focus the spotlight on West Springfield, Massachusetts where the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) Fairgrounds will become the headquarters for a nonstop round of circus related activities from July 14 to July 18.

One registration will allow attendees access to the national conventions of all of the following organizations:  the Circus Fans Association of America, the Circus Historical Society national convention, as well as the Windjammers Unlimited summer meeting, a Circus Model Builders exhibition, and performances by Cole Bros Circus, Circus Smirkus, the Carousel Organ Society, the American Youth Circus Organization and Clowns of America.  In addition, there will be an authentic recreation of a traditional circus sideshow, a circus film festival, jackpot sessions with circus veterans, a series of seminars and panel discussions, auctions of circus collectibles, vendors selling rare and unique circus related merchandise and social events galore.  Representatives from international circuses and circus friend organizations will give the meeting a true global perspective.  Additional events are being added almost daily.  The Summit website,, is the best source of up-to-the-minute news on schedules and options.

Here are some of the expected highlights of the Summit:

On Tuesday, July 14, the opening reception will provide all a chance to reunite with friends, mingle with circus celebrities, enjoy samples of upcoming activities and plan their  personal agenda for the Summit.

On Wednesday, July 15, Johnathan Lee Iverson, the charismatic ringmaster of Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus, will set the tone for the Summit with what is expected to be a stirring account of his own introduction to American circus and his subsequent career as a respected spokesperson for the industry and art form.

A presentation by the World Circus Federation, executive director Laura van der Meer, who will update Summit attendees on the Federation’s initiatives to promote and support the circus around the world.  Working from its headquarters in Monte Carlo, the organization provides vitally important validation of circus as a cultural asset.  Learn how you can become more involved in supporting initiatives that will have wide-ranging impact here and abroad.

During the golden age of the sideshow every circus large or small offered patrons the opportunity to explore the odd, unusual and exotic.  Variety performer (and CFA member) Scott Nelson has assembled a cast of artists with unique skills who will remind Summit visitors how captivating this type of entertainment can be.  His colleagues include representatives from the Coney Island Sideshow, Venice Beach Sideshow, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and the AMC television series “Freakshow.”

On Thursday, July 16: An unprecedented gathering of circus owners and managers from around the globe will provide Summit visitors the rare opportunity to listen in as top circus directors discuss the rewards and challenges facing circus management in the twenty-first century.

The Summit will host Cole Bros Circus on the grounds of the Big E for two performances on Thursday, July 16.  Summit attendees can purchase tickets to the evening performance as part of their registration package.  In addition to the regular action packed circus extravaganza, the dedicated WCS 2015 show will include a pre show concert by Windjammers Unlimited and special Summit features during the performance.  Cole Bros one-day stand will afford Summit attendees the opportunity to watch the show load in, perform and load out all in the same day.

A daily feature will be the hospitality tent  where visitors  may stop by at any time during Summit operating hours to meet friends, check schedules or take a break from all of the varied activities.  There will be food and drink available as well as information on late breaking developments.  It will also be a convenient spot to consult the daily update provided by our friends at The Circus Report.

A Circus Film Festival will run every night during the Summit, featuring a not to be missed line-up of circus related films, from vintage footage of historic circuses to contemporary documentaries.  Each evening, there will be screenings of a variety of titles, often with commentary by experts and filmmakers.

A Seminar Series will be run on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  In concert with the WCS 2015 theme of “Circus Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” there will be a series of seminars and panel discussions where attendees can explore in depth the heritage of circus past, the challenges and rewards in contemporary circus and the possibilities for circus in the future.  Subject matter experts, circus artists, producers and directors will interact with Summit attendees providing everyone involved with a global perspective on an evolving cultural art form.

Jackpot Junction will also be open each of these days, offering the opportunity to sit down with circus legends as they discuss their lives under the big tops.  Stories and recollections often reveal some of the most accurate impressions of what it was like on the sawdust trail.  A team of videographers will record the discussions to provide a permanent record for future generations of Fans.

Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, July 16: two separate auctions of circus collectibles.  For the first time ever, collectors will have the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of circus memorabilia offered by the two preeminent American circus affinity organizations over a period of two days.  Each auction will include unique lots, many of which have never before been available to the public.  In the past, bidders have marveled at the quality and consistency of the offerings as well as the reasonable cost.  Proceeds from the events will bolster the treasuries of the organizations themselves.  Anyone with valid Summit credentials may participate in both auctions.

During each day of the Summit the exhibition hall will have a display examples of the work from the Circus Model Builders.  State-of-the-art interactive displays will allow you to experience circus related activities that will spark your interest and encourage you to become even more involved in supporting the circus.  Participating organizations will be available in the hall to provide information and advice.

On Friday, July 17: Members of the Circus and Traveling Shows Ministry (CATS) will offer a non-denominational worship service open to all Summit attendees.  CATS includes members of the clergy who specialize in meeting the needs of traveling show people.

A delightful assembly of circus talent demonstrates the variety and diversity of contemporary sawdust skills in an intimate setting sure to satisfy your tanbark appetite.

Windjammers Unlimited Summer Meet (July 14 – 18)

 The circus music historical society will hold their annual summer meeting in conjunction with WCS 2015.  Summit attendees will have the rare opportunity to enjoy live traditional circus music performed by top musicians who specialize in music written specifically to accompany big top performances.  Your Summit credentials enable you to attend open rehearsals and recording sessions where a recording band will read vintage music, performing show music that, in some cases, has not been heard for over a century.  The Windjammers Circus Band will present a public concert in the ring prior to the evening performance of Cole Bros Circus on Thursday, July 16 and smaller musical groups made up of Windjammers can be heard during the seminar series, at the circus sideshow and at the opening reception.

 Circus Historical Society Annual Convention (July 14 – 18)

You are invited to join esteemed scholars, researchers and educators for an in depth examination of circus history.  The Society’s annual convention will be held concurrently with the Summit and everyone with WCS 2015 credentials is encouraged to take advantage of presentations, discussions and social events.  On Friday, July 17, Barry Lubin (Grandma the Clown) will be the speaker at a CHS luncheon.  Limited seating is available for that event and may be requested as an option on the WCS registration form.

July 14 – 18: Not one, not two, but dozens of carousel and band organs will provide music on the grounds of the Big E during the Summit.  Everything from small “organ grinder” units to full orchestral mechanical organs will serenade Summit attendees every day of the gathering.

Open daily during the Summit: Looking for something for your circus room or maybe a gift to take back home?  The vendors in the sales room will offer a wide variety of souvenirs and collectibles and promise something for everyone.  Stop by anytime during the Summit to sample what is available.

Clowns of America and World Clown Association;  It wouldn’t be a circus without clowns and the Summit is fortunate to have partnered with organizations that are dedicated to the art of laughter.  You will find clowns everywhere that you go at the Summit.  If your experience with clowning is limited to the circus ring, you will be fascinated to learn of all of the other ways in which clowns enrich the lives of people around the world.  Come to the Summit to laugh and learn from the dedicated folks who are proud to call themselves clowns.

Saturday, July 18: Share the wonder and enthusiasm that youth circus participants bring to the ring when representatives from a wide spectrum of youth, community and social circuses gather to perform for Summit attendees.  The American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) has assembled a program that will astound and delight Fans of all ages.  It is a not-to-be -missed opportunity to witness the potential for circus to change lives.

 Circus Fans of America is honored to have Cole Bros Circus owner John Pugh as the guest speaker at the organization’s annual banquet on Saturday evening.  Don’t miss a chance to hear what it takes to manage one of America’s most successful circuses.

Sunday, July 19: There will be an excursion to attend a performance of Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s award winning youth circus.  The show will be performing in nearby Connecticut and Summit attendees can order tickets and bus transportation as part of their WCS 2015 registration package.  If you have never attended a Circus Smirkus performance, you will be astounded at the level of skill, technical expertise and enthusiasm present under the little big top.  Summit attendees who have flights later in the day from Hartford International Airport will be pleased to know that Circus Smirkus will be playing in close proximity to the airport.

Registration is still open for all Summit activities. Consult the WCS 2015 website ( ) for details on hotels, transportation and late breaking developments.

 Bindlestiff Family Cirkus opens submissions for First of May Award

For more than 20 years, Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc. has been enriching New York City’s variety arts culture by producing and presenting unparalleled circus, sideshow and variety arts performances.  Bindlestiff is pleased to announce the fourth annual First of May Award, which will grant $500 to a variety artist or group of variety artists to support their development of an original full-length production.  Previous recipients include Clown Baggage by Matt Wilson, Unmasked, created and directed by Lady Aye and Mistress B and Solomon the Perplexer, created and written by Tanya Solomon and directed by Corn Mo.

Submissions are now open to solo artists or troupes wishing to apply for this year’s award.   Submission guidelines: Proposals must include: • a 1-page project description, • links to videos of past work (up to 3), • resumé and/or bios of participating artists. Proposed productions must be at least 40 minutes in length.    Productions may be either solo or troupe-based projects. If submitting as a solo artist, applicant must be a NYC resident.  If submitting as a troupe, at least 50% of troupe members must be NYC residents.

By submitting a proposal, applicants acknowledge that if the award is granted, 1) development of the proposed production must begin prior to June 30, 2015, and 2), a progress report is due by December 31, 2015, and at least one public performance of the production must be presented in New York City before May 1, 2016 (a work in progress performance is acceptable).

Deadline: Submissions must be received before midnight on April 1, 2015.  Proposals should be submitted via email to Submissions will be evaluated based on artistic merit, unique perspective, and variety arts relevance. The selected grantee will be announced on May 1, 2015.


The Bindlestiff Family Circus to Present Third Coast Circus Cabaret

The cabaret will be an evening of curated circus and variety performances designed to thrill, amuse, engage and arouse.

For the Third Coast Circus Cabaret at the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, the Bindelstiff’s are looking for diversity, innovation, character and individuality, technical skill from participating acts.


Underbelly’s Circus Season 2015 to Be Staged at London’s Jubilee Gardens

The dates of the residency are Tuesday, April, 9, through  Sunday July 19, 2015.

Underbelly Festival’s circus season continues to support cutting-edge circus companies. These three spectacular headline shows – A Simple Space, Circus Geeks: Beta Testing, and Bromance,  all promise to dazzle London with incredible physical feats and awe-inspiring performances of the most outrageous acrobatics.

A Simple Space is made up of eight young acrobats who compete for your laughter, gasps and applause with non-stop, mind-boggling feats of breath-taking acrobatics. Get up close and personal with one of Australia’s hottest circus ensembles, Gravity & Other Myths, as they push themselves to their limits and beyond in a captivating show of physicality, skill and daring.

Funny, geeky and super smart, Beta Testing lifts the lid on life as a juggler.  Beta Testing is a fascinating and hilarious insight into things you never knew you didn’t know. Discover the wonder behind juggling as these incredible performers display skills that will make your mind boggle. It’s juggling, but not as you know it.

Prodigal UK circus company Barely Methodical Troupe fuse their inner frats with a dazzling tour-de-force of cutting edge circus prowess and physical theatre mayhem in Bromance.  This multi-award-winning, critically-acclaimed company walks the line between the pugnacious and the poignant, in this hilarious, bitter-sweet and downright jaw-dropping celebration of everything blokey – where handshakes  become handstands and back slaps become backflips. These boys are destined to take British circus-theatre to new heights.

 Underbelly is a UK based, live entertainment company. Their events and festivals division operates one of the largest operations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe selling over 236,000 tickets for over 140 shows over 25 days. 2015 marks the seventh year of Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre and the fourth year of London Wonderground at Southbank Centre. Elsewhere Underbelly also produces Edinburgh’s Christmas; Comedy Hullabaloo with the RSC Stratford- upon-Avon; West End Live in Trafalgar Square for Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre. Through their Underbelly Productions arm they produce and promote live shows in London, throughout the UK and on tour internationally. In 2014 Underbelly sold over a million tickets to their various events.


SANCA Professional Preparatory Program Auditions

SANCA, the School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts, is pleased to invite applications to the 2015-2016 academic year Professional Preparatory Program (P3). This program is designed for aspiring circus artists who aim to launch a professional performaning career or audition for placement in an international multiyear circus program.  P3 training is intense, safe and progressive. Coursework includes 35 weeks of 30 class hours per week and covers four main areas of focus: acrobatics (handstands, tumbling, trampoline, partner acrobatics), aerial (static trapeze, rope, fabric, hoop, Chinese pole, dance (ballet, modern, choreography), and theater & act creation (improvisation, physical storytelling, acting, mask & clown) The 9-month academic year is divided into five sessions, during which students will first learn a baseline of skills, create two acts in the specialties of their choice, and, in the final session, participate in the creation and performance of a group show. Throughout the year, students will have the opportunity to assist in the production aspects of other SANCA shows as well as show works in progress in informal settings designed for development and constructive feedback.

More praise for From Barnum & Bailey to Feld, the Creative Evolution of the Greatest Show on Earth,

Ernest Albrecht, editor/publisher of Spectacle.

book cover

An extraordinary book.  An incredible work of scholarship, reportage and writing.

  I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Paul Binder, founder Big Apple Circus