Organizational Overview

Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc. prides itself on being an integral part of America’s outstanding folk traditions of circus, sideshow, vaudeville, storytelling, and burlesque. BFVA hosted its first Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Winter Cabaret in 1995 in Brooklyn, New York. Since then  BFVA has presented over 350 of the world’s top artists in the circus and variety fields and produced 5 original thematic Cirkus shows.  The annual Winter Cabaret has appeared in ten different Off Off and Off Broadway theaters in NYC, and BFVA’s Bindlestiff Family Cirkus has toured 35 American states and four European countries.  And since 2003 BFVA has been cultivating the next generation of artists with the Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth program.

Museum of TS 3 by MS

In 2005, Bindlestiff co-founders Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson purchased a primary residence and established rehearsal, storage and office space in Hudson, New York (Columbia County) and have since partnered with Hudson Valley arts organizations such as Bard College (Summerscape Festival headliners, 2006 to present) The Hudson Opera House, Time and Space Limited, the Morris Memorial, Operation Unite,  and Walking the Dog Theater. Our Hudson Valley activities have included performances at Basilica Industria, Winter Walk, Albany’s Winterfest, Hudson’s Waterfront Park, Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas Celebration, The Grand Opening of the Walkway over the Hudson, Albany’s Quadricentennial Celebration, Poughkeepsie’s Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, The Germantown Public Library, and several Hudson-Fulton Quadricentennial celebrations. 2009 and 2010 also featured GhostWALK Hudson, produced by BFVA in collaboration with Walking the Dog Theater, which presented the winning stories of a teen literary contest as dramatic vignettes in a walking tour of historic Hudson buildings.

Brooklyn Unicycle Day Part of the NYC Unicycle Festival produced by Bindlestiff Family Cirkus photo © Norman Blake

Brooklyn Unicycle Day
photo © Norman Blake

In addition its public performances, BFVA is committed to providing education and enrichment programs to support the variety arts in New York City and Hudson Valley communities. Bindlestiff instructors are currently teaching Cirkus Arts workshops (Hudson Opera House; Arts Walk, Hudson’s Quadricentennial Celebration, Benedictine Hospital Oncology Support Center) semester-break and summer camps (Time and Space Limited, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Abrons Arts Center), after-school programs (Village Children’s School, Children’s Workshop, West-Side Homeschooler’s Group, The Point Community Center (with Cirque du Soleil’s Cirque Du Monde program) Hudson City Department of Youth Clubhouse, Germantown Afterschool Drama Club, Chatham’s Morris Memorial). They have also lectured, performed and presented Cirkus Arts workshops at Yale University, New York University, Hampshire College, Tyler School of the Arts, University of Arizona Tucson’s School of Dance and Theater, and Wagner College of Staten Island.

Ekaterina Sknarina photo © Jim R Moore

Ekaterina Sknarina
photo © Jim R Moore

Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth, produced in collaboration with Playful Productions, pairs young artists from diverse backgrounds interested in learning the craft and skills of circus and variety with professional mentors in the field, and has presented these emerging artists in twice-yearly public shows in New York City. Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth made its Hudson Valley debut in 2010 at Bard’s Summerscape Festival Spiegeltent. In 2011 and 2012, Bindlestiff and Playful Productions hosted the American Youth Circus Organization’s regional conferences in NYC, bringing together over a dozen youth circus programs and almost 100 participants for workshops, peer mentoring, and a performance.

Ariele Ebacher on Wire photo credit: Cory Weaver

Ariele Ebacher on Wire
photo © Cory Weaver