Culture

Circus

CIRCUS is a six-hour series that takes you on an unforgettable trip with the legendary Big Apple Circus. From the big top to the "back lot," explore a distinctive world with its own rules, lingo and no fixed address. Follow the diverse characters who make up the Big Apple family and find out what it really means to live life in the ring.

Born to be Circus

53m 41s

Many performers who grew up in the circus find it difficult to imagine another kind of life. Luciano and Gladis Anastasini who are in charge of this year's dog act, are no exception. Seven generations of circus performers have preceded them. Both grew up in the circus, and it is the only life they have ever known. The question is, will their sons Adriano and Brando carry on the family legacy?

Episodes

  • Down the Road: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Down the Road

    S1 E6 - 53m 11s

    Amid the final performances, we hear about everyone's plans for the future. Many will be leaving Big Apple Circus. Some have consciously chosen a different path. Others have no idea what they're going to do next. As the trailers pull out of the lot, and the tent comes down for the last time, we join in the time-honored circus farewell: not "goodbye," but "see you down the road."

  • Born to be Circus: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Born to be Circus

    S1 E5 - 53m 41s

    Many performers who grew up in the circus find it difficult to imagine another kind of life. Luciano and Gladis Anastasini who are in charge of this year's dog act, are no exception. Seven generations of circus performers have preceded them. Both grew up in the circus, and it is the only life they have ever known. The question is, will their sons Adriano and Brando carry on the family legacy?

  • Survival of the Fittest: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Survival of the Fittest

    S1 E4 - 53m 41s

    We're in New York's Lincoln Center. The snow is coming down and the garden hoses that supply running water to the trailers are frozen solid. Still, the show goes on. Circus life can be a grind - and it isn't for everyone. A crewman, a trapeze artist, and even Artistic Director Paul Binder weigh their options and contemplate making a transition to the "real world."

  • Change On!: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Change On!

    S1 E3 - 53m 41s

    On the eve of the first performance, a pivotal act is cut and the performers sent packing. Tensions are running high. Making matters worse, a seasoned company regular has been diagnosed with cancer and will drop out of the show. Lackluster ticket sales are not helping the situation. The next stop is New York City and as the trailers hit the road again, everyone knows what's at stake.

  • One Ring Family: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    One Ring Family

    S1 E2 - 53m 41s

    The clock is ticking down to the first full dress rehearsal in Walden, but the show is nowhere near ready. As the pressure ratchets up, and the fate of the performers and the show hangs in the balance, we get inside the dynamics of the Big Apple family, watching relationships begin to gel, and tracking developing rivalries and romances.

  • First of May: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    First of May

    S1 E1 - 53m 41s

    Walden, New York is home base of the Big Apple Circus. Here, the 150 members of the company gather from all over the country and the world to put together a new show for their year-long, town-to-town tour. As the sets are built, costumes designed and fitted, acts rehearsed and refined, we get acquainted with the members of the Big Apple family.

Extras + Features

  • Meet Steve Smith: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Meet Steve Smith

    1m

    The Big Apple's guest director takes his work seriously -- but not himself. He talks about why he loves the circus.

  • Glen Gets a New License: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Glen Gets a New License

    2m 33s

    Preparing for a year on the road with the circus, Glen Heroy goes to the local DMV to renew his driver's license.

  • Singing in the Rain: Evolution of an Act: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Singing in the Rain: Evolution of an Act

    2m 46s

    Because of an unexpected change in the Play On! show's program, clown collaborators Barry Lubin and Mark Gindick were charged with developing a replacement act. The comedic duo dreamt up and performed a playful version of Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" -- a dance sequence with a healthy dose of water spitting.

  • Preview: Welcome to the Circus: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Preview: Welcome to the Circus

    2m 35s

    Join PBS on an unforgettable trip with the legendary Big Apple Circus. Meet the diverse characters who make up the Big Apple family. Get an intimate look at their fears and frustrations, triumphs and failures and find out what it really means to live life in the ring. Premieres November, 2010 on your local PBS station.

  • Preview: Barry Coaches Glen: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Preview: Barry Coaches Glen

    2m 44s

    Veteran clown and Big Apple Circus icon, "Grandma" aka Barry Lubin, shows circus newbie Glen Heroy the ropes of performing in a circus ring. Can Glen pull off a Big Apple signature routine, called "lead-a-band" as they would like him to?

  • The Early Years: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Early Years

    4m 28s

    Get to know co-founders Paul Binder and Michael Christensen, as they take you down memory lane to the early days of their partnership, long before the Big Apple Circus ever existed, when they were just a pair of street jugglers.

  • The Espana Funeral: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Espana Funeral

    3m 12s

    With the sudden passing of Gladis Espana Anastasini's father, Gladis and Brando fly down to the funeral. Here, we see that friends from the larger circus community have come to pay their respects to a brilliant performer who loved putting on a show. And we meet Gladis' extended family, the brothers and sisters she used to fly with in their family act - the Espana Flying Trapeze troupe.

  • Behind the Trick: Wire Walking: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Behind the Trick: Wire Walking

    44s

    The Big Apple Circus performer Sarah Schwarz doesn't just walk on the wire, she dances. It's an act requiring balance, concentration and grace. Watch Sarah in action and hear her describe what it feels like to perform her tightwire act.

  • Tommy Gets a Tattoo: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Tommy Gets a Tattoo

    4m 13s

    Tommy Decoteau is known for his body art. The tattoos are memorabilia from important times in his life... and now, he's ready to get one that commemorates his new home, the Big Apple Circus.

  • Preview: Load In Girls: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Preview: Load In Girls

    2m 5s

    The crew are the backbone of the circus. Taking down the tent and setting it up in each location, they literally move the circus. Like so many who ran away and joined the circus - the working crew find a home away from home at Big Apple, where the work is hard but the meals and living are free. It's hard but rewarding work, we learn, but can three new girls survive their first load in?

  • Meet Glen Heroy: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Meet Glen Heroy

    52s

    Circus clown Glen Heroy is starting his first season with the Big Apple Circus. He talks about realizing his dream of performing in the ring and how he tries to project his clown personal while performing.

  • Tent Raising: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Tent Raising

    1m 33s

    Watch a timelapse video of the Big Apple Circus tent going up.

WETA Passport

Stream tens of thousands of hours of your PBS and local favorites with WETA Passport whenever and wherever you want. Catch up on a single episode or binge-watch full seasons before they air on TV.