From June 28th till July 6th I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
[ What follows is the first of two blogs that I’m posting about my visit to the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. ]
This year’s festival theme was Circus Arts.
The Festival estimated that there were over a million visitors.
Michael Christensen, my fellow Big Apple Circus founder, and myself were invited to the festival for several reasons:
1. Tell the story of the Big Apple Circus, which we did daily on the Circus Stories stage. And then we presented the “keys” of the Big Apple Circus to the new management. The “keys” were a beat-up old top hat and a rubber chicken named “Leonard,” who had been our juggling “partner” over the many years of the Big Apple Circus and its predecessor, our street juggling act. That great adventure was a journey from San Francisco all the way to Istanbul.
2. Present “Circus of the Senses,” a program that serves sight and hearing-impaired kids and adults. I am proud to say that I originally created “Circus of the Senses” for the Big Apple Circus. Our role at the festival was to narrate and describe, over headsets, to blind kids and adults, a performance of Wonderland by Circus Juventas, a wonderful youth circus from St. Paul, Minnesota. (For the hearing-impaired audience members, there were American Sign Language interpreters.)
Here’s some photos from Wonderland.
We described a one-hour version of what had been a two-hour show. Following the performance, there was a “touch session” in the ring where blind kids and adults could touch costumes and props of the various performers as well as talk to the performers and myself.
[ To be continued in the next post. ]