The American circus has a long history, and Paul Binder has lived a colorful chapter of it. For three decades he’s been ringmaster of the Big Apple Circus. Top hat. Tails. Booming voice. Flying trapeze, horse, clowns, lights, dogs, and dazzling oom-pa-pa.
In 1977, a young Paul Binder had come home from Europe with the dream of launching a new, old-style one-ring circus in America — and he did it. On a stretch of landfill in lower Manhattan, the Big Apple Circus was born.
Lots of people dream of running away to join the circus. Binder started his own. Now, after three decades as ringmaster, artistic director, and circus boss, Binder is hanging up his hat.
This hour, On Point: A life in the circus — the Big Apple Circus — with Paul Binder.
You can join the conversation. Do you still fall for the magic of the circus? The Big Apple Circus? In the era of MP3s and DVDs, can the circus still compete?
Joining us in our studio is Paul Binder, founder and artistic director of Big Apple Circus. He joined the circus as a juggler in Europe with the Nouveau Cirque de Paris in the 1970s. In 1977, with juggling partner and co-founder Michael Christenson, he launched the Big Apple Circus. He is stepping down after 31 years as ringmaster.
Gladis Espana, member of the famed Flying Espanas, who have appeared in circuses in Mexico and the U.S. She is known for her work on trapeze, and has now retired from high-flying work.
Alida Wallenda-Cortes, a 7th generation performer from the Flying Wallenda family. She has performed in circuses since the age of three, and currently performs in The Flying Cortes trapeze act for Big Apple Circus.