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BRATTLEBORO — Juggling a dog, a one-year-old and a brand new show, New York-based Josh Aviner, 30, and his wife, Lyndsay Magid Aviner, 32, will bring their Hideaway Circus to town with performances. of “Stars Above” as part of a northeast tour.
They will perform at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) at 10 Town Crier Dr. on Friday August 13 and Saturday August 14.
According to the nominees Aviners – 2020 Drama Desk Award in the category Unique theatrical experience for Beyond Babel, a dance-theater riff on Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet – the show is a modern version of the nostalgia and intimacy of the traveling circuses of the early 19th century.
“Centered on a day in the life of a traveling family troupe, ‘Stars Above’ celebrates our bonds with our loved ones, our community and what we have lost,” they say.
As described in a press release, this intimate, family-style outdoor circus “combines elements of contemporary and old-fashioned circus.”
The production for all ages will be performed under the stars on a custom-built circular stage and with an aerial platform.
Adults will rate and relate to a number of classic circus pieces – circus tropes well known on the circuit for generations – and they will appreciate the work of circus veterans including Adam Kuchler, Ottavio and Naomi Gesmundo.
Young people and newcomers to the circus need no previous experience: “Stars Above” is a novelty, a reinvention of one of the most entertaining and captivating forms of popular entertainment in history.
Dedicated circus historian Josh Aviner is one of a group of somewhat esoteric producers and directors who work in the circus, dance, and variety arts – with an eye on the advancement of these performance genres, as well. as their preservation.
With Big Apple Circus gone and the old travel companies gone, it’s hard to find a good old-fashioned travel troupe these days. Except, that is, for Vermont’s own Circus Smirkus, where Aviner studied and for which he served on the board from 2015 to 2020.
‘The circus is what you’re good at’
Becoming an American citizen at 19, Aviner was born in Switzerland to an English mother and a German / Israeli father.
His parents brought the family to the United States when Aviner was young, and it was here that his father started a green fuels business. At the time, carbon neutral biodiesel put the senior Aviner at the forefront.
From his father, Aviner learned to appreciate business and entrepreneurship, but it was a childhood friend and neighbor who helped him find his circus house.
Both gymnastics enthusiasts – but also closet circus buffs – Aviner and his neighbor shared a quest for circus training. The friend discovered the Northeast Kingdom-based Circus Smirkus, and Aviner convinced his parents to let him attend.
It was the beginning.
“I knew when I was 10 that I wanted to do circus all my life,” he said.
Fourteen years ago, Aviner began training at NECCA, shortly after it opened at Cotton Mill, studying under founders Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, as well as with Bill Forchion and legendary trainer Sellam. El Ouahabi.
NECCA was operating in a small space at the time, “but it quickly became the best place in the Northeastern United States to learn circus technique,” Aviner said. “I was driving two and a half hours from southern Connecticut on Saturday morning and coming back in the evening.”
“Looking back, my parents were surprisingly permissive in allowing me to take such long car trips every weekend on my own at the age of 16,” he said.
He went on to perform in various genres as an undergraduate student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and in a nightclub theater, The Box, while studying in London.
“I liked it, but I was much more interested in the commercial and production side,” recalls Aviner.
So, he moved on to casting and producing, which he has done in places ranging from New York to Las Vegas and beyond.
Aviner and Magid Aviner met at Columbia as part of the Masters in Theater Management program. Magid Aviner had been a child actress on tour with the cast of Joseph and the incredible Technicolor dream coat.
After graduating from the University of Tampa, she had a successful acting career in New York City, but soon found it disillusioning. She too has found her way into theater production and management.
Having since raised funds for award-winning non-profit theaters including Atlantic Theater Company and Soho Rep., She has worked in business development for Olympus Theatricals and in theater management for the Nederlander Organization, a theater real estate operation of Broadway.
She sits on the board of directors of New Dramatists, a leading organization for emerging playwrights.
Hideaway Circus is truly a family circus. The husband-wife team is complemented by Aviner’s brother Jacob as musical director, his mother who makes props and Magid Aviner’s father who helps with the logistics of the tour: most of the storage, rentals, purchases and transportation.
International circus stars forced to return home
Stars above features a star cast of circus artists and musicians, performing original music and reimagined covers. The cast is 100% American, a rarity in contemporary circus, says Aviner, for which you can credit – or blame – the pandemic.
“In March 2020, many players were forced to leave contracts with large international companies to return home to the United States,” he said.
“Pandemic travel restrictions have created a unique opportunity to bring together some of the most talented circus performers of our time in one company, spanning ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds,” he said. he noted.
Aviner said the performers range from “sixth generation circus veterans with skills passed down from their families” to “very talented individuals from the best circus schools in the world.”
The collective experience of the “Stars Above” company includes decades of performances with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Midnight Circus, Circus Flora, Circus Harmony, Circus Smirkus, Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize, Bindestiff Family Cirkus, Spiegelworld, Circus Monti, and the contemporary circus of Circadium.
The company includes award-winning juggler, decorated clown and graduates of the National Circus School of Montreal, the Royal Academy of Ballet in Amsterdam, the Tisch and Steinhardt Schools of NYU, Columbia University, Berklee College of Music and the University of Tampa.
Themes for dealing with the unexpected
The “Stars Above” story is a reaction to COVID-19: “When what you predict doesn’t happen, how do you go? The themes of dealing with the unexpected and how such resilience and flexibility enriches the circus community – any community – permeates the storyline.
“Stars Above” draws a lot of material from early American circuses, an era defined roughly between 1815 and 1825. At that time, no animal acts were performed in circuses and events were held outdoors under the stars – like it will be. (Circuses were not seen in tents in this country until 1827.)
Additionally, the towns on their tour mirror those that would have been part of an early 19th century tour, including Brattleboro.
After touring the region and far beyond in Europe and Australia with other works, Aviner and Magid Aviner explain that this northeast tour is a “development”, a time to polish the show in anticipation. engagements next year in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal.
The mark that Hideaway Circus leaves on the reincarnated circus form is that “we bring to it what’s great about musical theater: we tell stories with music,” Aviner said.
The husband-wife creative team is passionate about the circus.
“The theater is competitive, but the circus is what you’re good at,” Aviner noted. “Circus artists find their specialty and perfect it to the end.
And for this reason, Aviner and Magid Aviner prefer the circus arts to theater and even dance and gymnastics.
“With circus shows,” adds Avenir, “if you put in the effort and the will, you can do anything. Persistence and hard work: that’s what pays off.
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