About The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
Since 1995 the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus has traveled the world, bringing its unique hybrid of Vaudeville, Circus, Wild West Shows, Burlesque, and Sideshow to theaters, clubs, colleges, and festivals. The company has produced innumerable cabaret shows, custom performances for special audiences, all-ages and family productions, and sophisticated adult shows. Over the past decade the company has began developing more theatrical productions, including 2000's Down & Out in NYC, 2001's Off-Broadway Buckaroo Bindlestiff's Wild West Jamboree, 2003's High Heels & Red Noses, 2005's From the Gutter to the Glitter, and 2008's Kinko for President. In 2004 Bindlestiff instituted its children's performance program, the Cavalcade of Youth, in which young performers and technical staff (ages 3-20) have the opportunity to hone their skills with variety arts professionals.
The Bindlestiff Family co-founders are Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson, who over the last decade have hosted a variety of outrageous talent under the Bindlestiff banner. Their personal dedication to the variety arts, circus, vaudeville, sideshow, and burlesque has made the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus famous both among audiences and within the variety performance community.
From 2002 to 2004 the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus operated the "last vaudeville house in Times Square." In conjunction with chashama, Bindlestiff opened Bindlestiff's Palace of Variety and Free Museum of Times Square. The Palace presented up to five performances a day, presenting continuous vaudeville shows on 42nd Street and hosting three different Bindlestiff shows and nearly 30 guest artist productions.
The size of the Cirkus can range from two to sixteen performers, depending on the show. Over 400 performers from a multitude of disciplines have entertained Bindlestiff audiences across the country and around the world. Bindlestiff has brought its grand spectacle to hundreds of thousands directly and to over a million people more through television. Dedicated fans come back again and again expecting the very best and most original acts working today.
In 2006 the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and Magic Hat Summer Variety Show made its debut tour. Co-sponsored by Magic Hat Brewing Company, this production sought to bring circus to festivals and music stages up and down the East Coast. 2006 also marked the first year the Bindlestiff performed in a Spiegeltent. This European style cabaret tent provided the perfect background for the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus spectacle.
Starting in 2006 Bindlestiff began working with Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island to provide circus elements for musical theater productions including Sugar Babies: A Burlesque Musical. In the summer of 2007 the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus offered a Circus Summer Camp for Staten Island youth.
In the past few years Bindlestiff has been developing variety arts and circus programs in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. These have included programs in conjunction with Hudson Boy's and Girl's Clubs, Columbia Community College, and Bard College.
Bindlestiff has brought the circus arts to every type of stage and audience imaginable, and some unmentionable. Its shows have ranged from family shows to musical parodies to burlesque Cirkus spectacles. For nearly fifteen years Bindlestiff has been keeping the variety arts alive by performing and teaching in New York City and beyond. Bindlestiff has performed on stages and festivals around the world including Lincoln Center's Avery Fischer Hall (NYC), Glastonbury (UK), Burning Man (NV), Ruigoord (NL), Bonnaroo (TN), and in the Caribbean Seas.
You can find Bindlestiff Family Cirkus alumni working in theaters, festivals, arts centers, streets, circuses, cruise ships, and carnivals around the world.
Links to Additional Bindlestiff Internet Locations:
The Bindlestiff's Webisode Series
Bindlestiff on MySpace
Bindlestiff on Facebook
Bindlestiff's YouTube Channel
Kinko the Clown for President 2012
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.
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.
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.
Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth 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, and will return in 2011.
BFVA Goals in 2011
In 2011, BFVA will continue to develop and expand its educational programs with the acquisition of more equipment, greater outreach, and continued professional development for its instructors. The establishment of regular Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth shows and workshops in multiple locations in New York State will bring youth circus participants from diverse communities together to meet, train, create original work together, and have opportunities to make lifelong friendships. BFVA will also implement in the 2011-12 school year it's Schoolyard Superstars program, a grade-based initiative in which our Hudson, New York afterschool Cirkus Arts participants can earn circus equipment.
Performance plans include our 16th annual Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Winter Cabaret season; the ongoing monthly Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show for emerging artists in our field; our fifth Speigeltent season at Bard College; and The Empire State Vaudeville Circuit a touring variety show stopping at Hudson Valley, New York Metro area, and Western New York theaters.
Emerging from a Fall 2009 residency at the University of Arizona at Tucson’s Dance Department, Bindlestiff has created an Artist-in-Residency program with author and historian Frank Cullen. The 14-day residency for undergraduate theater students looks at the history of American popular entertainment through the lens of the illegitimate theater such as vaudeville, circus, minstrel shows, and sideshows, and traces threads of these traditions through past entertainments and into today’s TV sitcoms. In-depth research is combined with hands-on workshops in prop manipulation, physical comedy, exploring characterization through movement, and act creation. The residency culminates in a student show, open to the public. Our attendance at the 2011 Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York City was focused on introducing this residency program to colleges across the United States.
2011 will also continue Bindlestiff's active work in the Columbia County, New York arts community, as we work together to bring attention to the creative energy and economic stimulus provided by the area's performing arts organizations. Since 2007, we have been active members in the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce’s Perform Columbia group, a collective of twenty performing arts organizations sharing resources and audiences. Out of this collective has grown valuable opportunity for artistic collaborations between Bindlestiff and half a dozen arts groups in the area, such as 2009’s Stilt Walking Workshop, wherein youth created a parade presentation for inclusion in Operation Unite’s Black Arts and Cultural Festival Family Day Parade, a 2009 Arts WALK Youth Variety Showcase, and an upcoming Youth Variety Showcase, slated for November at Helsinki Hudson.
2011 also continues the work of Variety Arts School and Theater (VAST), a collaborative effort to purchase and customize a building in New York City by multiple arts organizations active in the variety arts, suited to the purpose of performing, rehearsing and teaching circus and variety arts; hosting shared office space for non-profit variety arts organizations, housing an archive and library dedicated to our field, and serving as a nexus for the growing variety arts community in New York State.