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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Choreographer juggles his routine for circus

#1 Mount Kisco's Peter Pucci inside the big top of the Big Apple Circus in Manville, N.J., the first stop for "Dance On!" which Pucci choreographed. The circus opens Thursday at Lincoln Center. (Photos by Vincent DiSalvio/The Journal News)
October 17, 2010-- Peter D. Kramer
In the middle of an award-winning choreography career, Peter Pucci joined the circus.For the past 18 months — when he hasn't been teaching Juilliard first-years how to approach a script or choreographing and teaching at Manhattanville College or helping to stage musicals — Pucci has been thinking about jugglers and acrobats.Starting Thursday, the fruit of the Mount Kisco choreographer's labors fills the Big Apple Circus' big top in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park, as the circus' 33rd season begins its New York run.This season's circus, aptly titled "Dance On!," marks a change on several fronts at the one-ring wonder, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the action.For one, it's the first season under artistic director Guillaume Dufresnoy, who succeeds founding artistic director Michael Christensen.For another, there's Pucci, a former Pilobolus dance troupe member, whose contribution has broken the mold of the little circus.He uses the artists' downtime to make "Dance On!" even more playful, inventive and family friendly than past seasons at the playful, inventive, family-friendly circus.


#2 Mark Gindick, left, as Man Who Dances, has a little fun with Grandma the Clown (Barry Lubin), in "Dance On!" the 33rd season of the Big Apple Circus.
Instead of having the separate acts appear, perform and then sit backstage awaiting the curtain call, Pucci has created a community of players through dance.For example, when the members of the Chinese Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Troupe aren't performing, or getting ready to go on, they take to the ring and balance basketballs on their heads or join in the dance moments that fill the spaces between the acts.The central character of "Dance On!" is Mark Gindick as Man Who Dances, a character who mixes clowning with an irresistible love of dance that proves infectious. When Man Who Dances starts moving to the music, the acrobats, contortionists and jugglers can't seem to keep from joining in, wordlessly answering his call to let loose.The effect is a more playful circus. And play is exactly how Pucci managed to get Kenyan pole climbers, Chinese acrobats, Mongolian contortionists and an Ethiopian juggler to accept his plan for "Dance On!"

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