The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

Bindlestiff large.jpg

Bindlestiff's -- all the circus, none of the elephants.

By Jessica Pasko

Not so long ago the circus came to A-town and it started a discussion here at AOA about the poor treatment of the elephants and lions. Well here's a way for those who want to boycott the PETA-unfriendly circuses to experience some big top style thrills.

Check out the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.

bindlestiff ensemble.jpgBindlestiff is more in the vaudeville tradition than Ringling Brothers. There's a little cabaret involved, a little bawdiness, some old-fashioned make-believe and even a little vintage slapstick. Think trapeze instead of lion-taming, knife-throwing instead of parading elephants and a whole lotta retro Coney Island-inspired sass.

This Brooklyn-born circus troupe recently moved to Hudson and this summer they're bringing their sword-swallowing, juggling, burlesque, and trapeze arts to a variety of Capital Region locales.

They do shows that are a bit more "grown up" and others that are more family friendly. I've seen their adult shows a couple of times at Red Square in the past few years and it's always a lot of fun, though usually sparsely attended. Hello? Did I mention sword swallowing, juggling, burlesque and trapeze arts? Come on Albany, this is good stuff!

Over 400 circus performers have worked with Bindlestiff since it began back in 1995. Co-founder Keith Nelson says the circus "kind of rose up out from the ashes of the late 80s-early 90s performing arts scene in Ne York City."

Bindlestiff founders.jpgHe and partner Stephanie Monseu started out as a fire-eating duo. That led to a weekly variety show in Brooklyn that was basically a mishmash of different acts. Later it evolved into more traditional sideshow entertainment. most of them have gone on to other such arts groups around the country.

Nelson and Monseu are also teaching and offering workshops for cirkus wannabees around the Capital Region. There's a youth workshop for juggling props, tumbling, stilts, walking low tight ropes at Hudson's Time Space Limited in July and Stephanie Monseu actually teaches noncredit circus skills classes at Columbia Greene Community College throughout the year.

bindlestiff poster.gifThey're also part of a weekly juggling club in Hudson on Monday nights and one in Chatham on Sundays. Those are open to anyone who wants to come and practice their juggling skills, and is basically a meet-up for jugglers of all levels. Oh and if you ever find yourself in need of a ventriloquist or a contortionist they can set you up. Really.

If you're more of a spectator, you can catch the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus in Saratoga Springs on July 3rd at their family-friendly Buckaroo Bindlestiff Wild West Jamboree .

Top Photo:Roy Volkmann


What is it with Red Square hosting so many circus performers these days?

Saw Bindlestiff @ Red Square two years ago and it was a fun time. Great bar w/ AMBIENCE. I'd recommend Bindlestiff & Red Square, separately or together! :)

I checked out their website and I don't see information on the show in Saratoga. Any idea on where tickets can be purchased? Where they are performing, etc?

Here's the info for tomorrow's event:

Date: July 3, 2009 SaratogaYouth Day!
Showtime: 3 pm
Location: East Side Recreation, Saratoga
Free to the public

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