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Big Apple Circus comes to Dulles Expo Center
Third-generation circus worker Jenny Vidbel says there's
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Date published: 9/28/2012
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
For more than 150 years, the shout "The circus is coming!" has sparked excitement. The Big Apple Circus at Dulles Town Center in Loudoun County continues that tradition.
"Legendarium: A Journey Into Circus Past," allows audiences to experience performances--including trapeze artists, contortionists, slack-wire walkers and synchronized bicycle daredevils--that have awed and amazed crowds since the earliest days of the circus.
Jenny Vidbel, a third-generation animal trainer who presents an array of ponies, horses and pups, provides insight into the skill, passion, dedication and energy that performers invest.
"You see their real love for what they're doing. In the four or five minutes they are out there, you see results of the years that they've invested in their performance and the work that was involved. It's a wonderful thing."
Vidbel's own family's journey has an almost fairy-tale quality. Her grandfather ran away at 14 to join the circus, where he fell in love with and married her grandmother. As young girls, Vidbel and her twin sister, Susie, played with the elephants her grandfather trained. Even then, she was struck by the animals' sensitivity and emotional response.
"The elephants were basically our baby sitters. They protected us 100 percent and they didn't want strangers around. My grandfather raised those elephants since they were very young, and they were part of our family," she recalls.
"There was one elephant who was the oldest and the leader, and she didn't like it when we would go with the other elephants. She would very gently wrap her trunk around us and pull us underneath her, like her own young!"
All of the dogs that perform with Vidbel have been rescued from the pound.
"The goal was not only to rescue them but to rehabilitate them and make them stars," she explains. In developing her acts, Vidbel works with the animals to understand what they can do and like to do, and tailors performances accordingly.
Once, when her goats and ponies were in the ring together, a goat hopped onto a pony's back.
"The goats like high places, and in their natural environment they would be rock climbers, so I worked on a routine with that."
Vidbel notes that she has learned lessons in return.
WHAT: Big Apple Circus, "Legendarium: A Journey Into Circus Past" WHERE: Dulles Town Center, 45630 Dulles Center Blvd., Dulles (intersection of State Routes 7 and 28 in Loudoun County) WHEN: Through Oct. 8 COST: $25-$75 TICKETS AND INFO: 888/541-3750; bigapplecircus.org