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Circus of the Senses

Posted Jun 13 2009 12:24am

The Big Apple Circus, which I am assuming is based in New York, travels through the country each year, making stops at selected cities. I know – most circuses do that. But, the Big Apple Circus does something more. They provide many community programs, and the following is from their website:

The award-winning Big Apple Circus is not only a world-renowned presenter of live family entertainment but also a leading not-for-profit performing arts institution with community outreach programs that are unique to the entertainment industry. Year-round the Big Apple Circus serves not only the communities in which it performs but also children and families across the nation.

Here are examples of their community programs:

CLOWN CARE - Clown Care, the Big Apple Circus’s signature community outreach program, brings the joy of the classical circus to hospitalized children at 19 leading pediatric facilities across the United States. Circus Co-Founder Michael Christensen created the program in 1986, based on his desire to provide a unique service to youngsters undergoing treatment in pediatric facilities. In partnership with a participating hospital’s chief medical and administrative staff, members of the Clown Care team conduct ‘clown rounds,’ their own version of medical rounds, where the healing power of humor is always the prescription.

VAUDEVILLE CARAVAN - Vaudeville Caravan brings the joy and wonder of the classical circus to elderly living in residential care facilities. The program utilizes music, juggling, magic, and improvisational theater to create personalized, meaningful interactions with the elderly residents at eight Chicago-area nursing home facilities, and also with elderly veterans at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital of Hudson Valley’s Long Term Care facility in Montrose, NY.

CIRCUS AFTER SCHOOL - Young people and education have been a part of the Circus since its founding in 1977, reflecting the enduring appeal the circus arts have for children from all walks of life. Circus is an ideal activity for after-school enrichment, and over the years the Big Apple Circus has sustained its commitment to educational programming. Throughout, it has provided at-risk youth with the highest quality experience, engaging and empowering them to achieve their full potential.

CIRCUS FOR ALL - Through Circus for All!, the Circus provides more than 50,000 complimentary and subsidized tickets to performances of the Big Apple Circus’s big top tent production to not-for-profit organizations serving children facing physical challenges and economic adversity and to public school groups.

And the one in which I am the most interested:

CIRCUS OF THE SENSES - First offered in 1987, Circus of the Senses is a special performance offered free of charge to children with hearing and vision impairments and other disabilities along with their teachers, families, and caregivers. Presenting a slightly modified version of the Big Apple Circus’s annual production, the program allows children and adults with significant challenges to experience the performing arts in a meaningful and compelling way. The program exemplifies the Big Apple Circus’s commitment to the community and its ability to transcend the boundaries represented by language, age, culture and physical capacity.

Wireless audio headsets, which use a state-of-the-art infrared transmission system, are distributed to allow visually impaired audience members to hear Circus Founder and Co-founder Paul Binder and Michael Christensen deliver a live play-by-play description of the action in the ring. In addition, American Sign Language interpreters are strategically positioned in spotlights to sign throughout the performances. Individuals with vision impairments have their choice of a large-print program or a 15-page Braille program, distributed in advance, each of which describes the various acts in detail. Finally, there is a “touch session” after the show where children are welcomed into the ring to meet the artists and to literally feel a clown nose, a juggler’s clubs, or the silky coat of a performing dog.

Circus of the Senses is currently offered free-of-charge five times a year, in New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Dulles, Virginia.

I live fairly close to Washington, DC (Dulles) and will be trying to make it to that show. I hope the rest of you can make one also.
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