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REVIEW: Big Apple Circus dances away for the kiddy crowd

Biga1110610_optBY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW

Packing acrobats, jugglers, animal acts and friendly clowns aimed for the Pre-K though elementary school set, The Big Apple Circus has pitched its tent in Damrosch Park with its latest show "Dance On!"

The 33rd annual edition is aptly named, since choreographed segments often fluently move the various acts in or out of the center ring. Casually dressed in a striped rugby and yellow sneakers, Mark Gindick cheerfully breaks into aerobic dance bits. Even Barry Lubin's beloved Grandma gets down and boogies.

Judging by the many oohs and ahs arising from the peanut gallery, perhaps the biggest audience pleaser proves to be the dozen ponies and horses smoothly trotting about under the genial direction of Jenny Vidbel, especially when she adds a couple of frisky dogs and goats to the livestock assembly.

While the show offers top-notch circus artists like Bulgarian strong-arm balancer Andrey Mantchev, who amazingly pivots upside-down on his head among other feats, and the lithe Wuqiao Acrobatic Troupe, who tumble fearlessly through hoops and skip rope while pedaling monocycles, "Dance On!" appears somewhat underpowered.

High above the crowd, Russian aerialist Regina Dobrovitskaya satisfactorily swings on ropes, but perhaps substituting more dynamic episodes — say a trampoline or a trapeze act — in place of the program's able but relatively static jugglers and contortionists might generate a livelier overall occasion.

Still, there's plenty of pleasing entertainment, abetted by Grandma's familiar, feisty presence and the goony comical doings of saucer-eyed Rob Torres. Bright costumes and sharp lighting enhance the show, which is driven by a brassy six-piece band whose music is exceptionally well coordinated with whatever is happening in the ring.

"The Big Apple Circus: Dance On!" continues through Jan. 9 in Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, Amsterdam Avenue at W. 62nd St., New York. Call (888) 541-3750 or visit www.bigapplecircus.org.

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