Where last year’s Big Apple Circus was all about saying goodbye to the rabble-rousing, iconic Grandma the Clown, this year’s production cleans the slate by bringing audiences back to circus of yesteryear.
“Legendarium,” the 35th anniversary production of the Big Apple Circus, returns audiences to a time when traveling circuses were a part of village life. Or so it will feel when the storied company continues its annual Boston residency in the modernist setting of Boston’s City Hall Plaza through the middle of May.
Argentina-born contortionist Elayne Kramer hopes that first-time audiences will have the same experience that she did upon seeing the Big Apple Circus for the first time as a child. The sixth generation circus performer remembers being completely transfixed by the closeness she felt, both literally and figuratively, to the performers in the big top.
“I fell in love with it,” says the 21-year-old. “That sense of connection with the audience is so important.”
She’s just given an eye-popping outdoor performance at Faneuil Hall, where she charmed a frigid, but willing crowd with skills such as balancing on her hands and casually bending her legs over her head like a scorpion’s tail. Kramer’s remarkable act incorporates the ancient trick of firing a bow and arrow with her feet.
According to Kramer, her signature trick goes back to the year 61A.D. and was discovered by her father in Samoa.
“My father walked into a pub and found a picture of an Indian woman holding a bow and arrow with her feet. He kept that picture for many years and when I was six years old he showed me and said ‘would you like to try this?’”
Little Elayne said yes. But don’t be worried about the arrow going into the seats. Remember, she has been practicing since the age of six and first executed the trick at the age of seven.
“If you’re nine years old, you’re already too old to learn contortionism!”
Other performers in the Big Apple group offer modern spins on time-tested circus staples like clowning, animal training, tumbling, juggling, trapeze, wire, aerial skills and more—all skills within Kramer’s own amazing DNA.
“My father did everything. Teeter board, flying trapeze, tightrope, slack-wire, hand balancing and tumbling with his brothers. My mother was an aerialist, did hair-hanging—an art that people don’t know much about anymore—and was a rope dancer.”
Kramer herself was in the fold from birth.
“It’s easier to get into the circus than to leave it!”
Big Apple Circus
Through May 12
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
$20-$100, show times vary