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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Written by Greg Arrastia, Third-Year New Victory Usher

During the recent run of FLY at The New Victory Theater, I had the great pleasure of getting to know three real-life Tuskegee Airmen! I had a lot of questions for them, and they were more than happy to answer them and share a few of their stories with me.

 

Third-Year Usher Greg Arrastia with Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery
Greg got to know Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery during the run of Fly, when they attended a pair of special Talk-Back events.
These men, who bravely served in our country's military at a time when they weren't accepted by others, really made a difference. They risked their lives to make the world a better place. To be given the opportunity to meet some of the Tuskegee Airmen is an honor that I won't forget. I remember a story one of the airmen told me about the time he walked up to a set of water fountains—one was for whites only, and the other solely for blacks. "Simply taking a drink of water from the wrong fountain could have gotten me killed," he said. And yet, he sipped from the "Whites Only" fountain, proving that he was determined to take a stand against discrimination and oppression.

As I observed and got to know these men, I noticed that they were not only funny, soft-spoken and young-at-heart; they were really strong, too—physically, mentally and emotionally. One of the airmen told me that he worked as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s security guard. Wow! I mean, just to get to meet Dr. King, an amazing man who made a huge impact on society, would be such a huge honor. I can't imagine what it must have been like having the job of protecting Dr. King.

Listening to their stories helped me to think about life, and our country's history, in a different way. One thing that will stick with me is the moment one of the airmen looked me in the eyes and said, "Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something. People will try to tell you that because they haven't done it. Anything you put your mind to, you can do. Don't let anyone hold you back. We are living examples of that!"

I wish everyone could have the experience of talking with someone who has been such an important part of our history. Being with these amazing men and listening to their stories changed my life. To be honest, I never really found history to be all that interesting. That is, until I saw FLY and got to meet the airmen. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen should be talked about more in schools. It's an important part of our history, and people need to know what they went through and what a difference they made. It was a blessing to get to know these inspiring men.

This is definitely an experience that I'll keep with me—always.
 
 
Greg Arrastia Greg Arrastia is a Third-Year Usher who hails from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Greg’s #LoveOfTheater began right here at the New Vic, and he also enjoys playing basketball and working out at the gym. He credits the New Victory Usher Corps for highlighting the importance of helping others and teaching him how to be a leader. You can learn more about Greg in his Usher Spotlight from earlier this season.

Congratulations to the Wildcats, and condolences to the Tar Heels. Now on to more important business! Which picture books will face off in our Championship? Our Final Four matches were too close to call for a while there, but the results are finally in. Despite his many legs and indefatigable track record, The Very Hungry Caterpillar couldn't keep up with Max and his Wild Things. We wish him well—he has a high-flying future ahead of him. The Lorax, meanwhile, out-colored and out-matched The Day the Crayons Quit, which is okay, because those crayons have been looking forward to a vacation for some time.

This means that Where the Wild Things Are will face off against The Lorax in this, the Championship Round. It's somehow fitting that our top Caldecott Medalist would have to contend with our most Colorful Classic. Who will triumph? And which remaining picture book will take home the bronze medal—The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Day the Crayons Quit? These decisions are once again in your hands, gentle readers! Take a look at the brackets below and cast your votes in the embedded form.

Championship Matchup   Race for the Bronze
vs.   vs.



So will it be Sendak or Seuss for the gold? And Carle or Jeffers for the bronze? Check back next week, when we'll crown the winners. If you're a big fan of The Lorax, our friends at Brightly have their own March Madness bracket going for Best Picture Book Character Ever, and that little Seussian conservationist is a finalist there, too! Check it out and cast your vote.

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we’re talking to third-year usher Daniel Alaimo, who comes from the Bronx.

Who inspires you?
My family and friends. They are the ones that have pushed me to better myself, to become fearless and to never doubt myself.

What's your fondest childhood memory?
Waking up on Saturday mornings to watch Pokémon with my sisters.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
The Amazing Spider-Man comic books were my favorites. They were fun, awesome stories that have also helped me with growing up; they've taught me to be responsible and to help others whenever I can.

What are your favorite subjects in school?
I would say it's a tie between science and history. Science has helped me learn how the universe works, and history has taught me how humans have evolved throughout our existence. 

How would you describe your personal style?
If I'm being honest with myself, my personal style would probably be considered “lazy.” I kind of just wake up, look in my drawers and think, “Meh, good enough.”

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
My favorite place to eat is usually someplace quick and cheap. Also, Dunkin' Donuts. I really like (and often really need) their coffee.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I sometimes take classes and perform at The PIT (The People's Improv Theater). I also play video games and work on my YouTube channel. 

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
I'll go anywhere that seems fun and interesting—there's no one specific place that I like to hang out.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
The most challenging thing would probably be trying to make sure that everyone has a good time.

What's your dream vacation? 
I would love to go on a cross-country road trip.
 

Each of our Third-Year Ushers gets to spend 40 hours working on a special project—a Third-Year focus—in the department of their choice at The New 42nd Street. Dan is spending his Third-Year focus writing and producing a tongue-in-cheek Usher Corps training video with Zack Ramadan, our Digital Marketing Associate and resident video guy.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
April 14, 2016

49 Circus Facts


With heart-stopping stunts, hair-raising feats, gravity-defying hair and undeniable heart, Bello Nock is back at The New Victory with his third installment of BELLO MANIA! In honor of the storied circus history of Bello's family, we present to you 49 circus facts!
 
 
  1. The word "circus" comes from the Latin for circle or ring. Large public entertainment events, like chariot races, would take place at Rome's Circus Maximus, which could fit an audience of over 150,000 Romans!
  2. A traditional circus is a traveling company of acrobats and performers, including trained animals and clowns.
  3. Nouveau Cirque combines art forms like juggling, trapeze, acting and music without a ringleader, animals or "big top" tent.
  4. In order to execute tricks safely, circus performers have to work as an ensemble—a group of equals without a single star.
  5. Balancing and airborne acts often require three performers: a flyer who performs skills mid-air, a second performer acting as a base to lift or catch the flyer and a third—a spotter—to assist and safeguard the flyer.
 

The ruins of the Circus Maximus in Rome
 
  1. Performers let us know their acts are done with their own signature style—maybe a wink, a hand gesture or a "Ta-dah!"
  2. Clowning is highly physical theater, often without words, that draws on the traditions of Commedia dell'Arte and pantomime.
  3. Charlie Chaplin, one of the most influential clowns and comedians, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and came in third!
  4. Australia has only one full-time circus school: The Flying Fruit Fly Circus! They don't actually train bugs, though.
  5. Cigar boxes are still a popular juggling prop today, used for high-speed mid-air box exchanges, balancing and other tricks.
 

Commedia dell'Arte Show by Karel Dujardin (1657)
 
  1. Legendary screen star Cary Grant started his performance career working as an acrobat and juggler.
  2. Contortionism is a circus genre in which a performer displays unusually flexible muscles and mobile joints.
  3. Funambulism (or tightrope-walking) is the art of walking along a thin wire or rope, usually at a great height. Bello is a particular fan of this circus art!
  4. It is statistically harder to get into the Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College than it is to get into Harvard Law School.
  5. The simplest form of juggling using three objects is called a three ball cascade. Give it a try!
 

The contortionists of Cirque Ziva (New Vic 2014)
 
  1. Sousa's famous march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," was traditionally played to quickly signal an emergency to all circus personnel.
  2. Alongside circus traditions, performers have developed many circus superstitions. For instance, whistling backstage is considered bad luck. 
  3. One circus superstition is that performers must enter the ring on their right foot to avoid bad luck.
  4. For good luck, some circus performers keep a hair from an elephant's tail in their pockets. The real question, then, is what kind of hair do elephant's keep in their pockets?
  5. Once a performer's wardrobe trunk is set down backstage, it's considered bad luck to move it before the circus relocates.
  6. Trapeze artists develop their skills over years of training. Want to try? Consider Trapeze School New York.
  7. In circus lingo, a strolling vendor who sells concession items like popcorn and toys to the audience is called a "butcher."
  8. The Oscar-winning 1952 circus epic, The Greatest Show on Earth, was the first film that Steven Spielberg ever saw in a theater.
  9. A free pass is sometimes called an Annie Oakley—the small hole punched in the ticket resembles sharpshooter Oakley's bullet holes, and Oakley is rumored to have given bullet-perforated playing cards to kids to use as free passes!
  10. Did you know that human cannonballs travel between 60 and 70 miles an hour when they're shot? Flying through the air that fast is like driving down the highway without a windshield.
 

A miniature popcorn vendor or "butcher" in Popcorn for Sale
Photo: Marcus Quigmire
 
  1. Did you know that popcorn, a popular circus and theater snack, has been around since 400 BC?
  2. In keeping with yet another circus superstition, performers never eat peanuts backstage.
  3. John Bill Ricketts presented the first circus in America on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia. President George Washington attended!
  4. The modern circus—equestrian acts, clowning and feats of strength and agility—was created by Philip Astley in 1770 in England.
  5. Italian equestrian Giuseppe Chiarini led the most well-traveled early circus, visiting fifteen countries on five continents during the late 19th century.
 

John Bill Ricketts' Art Pantheon and Amphitheatre in Philadelphia
 
  1. The curtain separating the ring from the backstage of the circus is called the vorgang.
  2. And another circus superstition: Bringing a peacock feather into the circus tent is said to be bad luck.
  3. Barnum, a musical written about P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, premiered on Broadway in 1980 in the St. James Theatre, just two blocks away from the New Victory!
  4. After living in the London Zoo for sixteen years, Jumbo the Elephant was sold to P.T. Barnum and came to the U.S. in 1882.
  5. Like Bello in modern times, Jumbo inspired "Jumbomania", and jumbo soon became a synonym for large. Can we popularize bello as a synonym for gravity-defying?
 

At the height of "Jumbomania", Jumbo was featured in advertisements for all sorts of dissonant products, from candy to baby laxative!
 
  1. Did you know that circus is over 2,000 years old? Chinese circus dates back to the Qin Dynasty of 225–207 BC.
  2. "Happy Cooks" is a traditional Chinese circus act that involves plate spinning and juggling food or kitchen utensils.
  3. In 1971, the first week of August was designated National Clown Week by President Richard Nixon.
  4. There are three types of clowns: Whiteface (the oldest), Auguste (zany and dim) and the Character Clown (Happy Hobo or Sad Tramp).
  5. Social Circus programs attempt to engage marginalized kids in the circus arts, utilizing skill- and ensemble-building as tools for empowerment.
  6. Before graduating to long, pointy weaponry, Sword Swallowers practice their craft with spoons, plastic tubes, knitting needles and wire coat hangers.
  7. Most contortionists are either frontbenders or backbenders, depending on which direction their spines are more flexible in.
  8. Enterology is the practice of squeezing one's body into a very small box or container.
  9. The only full-time, permanent sideshow left in the world is the Coney Island Circus Sideshow right here in New York City.
  10. Looking for local circus happenings? Visit circusnyc.com.
 

Two talented enterologists
 
  1. Is that clown car a regular two-door coupe? No. Circuses hollow out the insides of small cars to create as much space as possible, and then they pile in as many clowns and large props as possible.
  2. A rola bola, or bongo board, is a flat piece of wood balanced on a wooden cylinder. Circus performers balance on one (or many stacked) bola boards for all sorts of acts, from juggling to acrobatics. Make your own!
  3. The world record for the most balls juggled is held by Alex Barron for completing twenty-five cascades of eleven juggling balls at once!
  4. Looking for local juggling events and resources? Visit jugglenyc.com!
 
 
Can you round out our list of 49 facts with a 50th of your own? Share your circus expertise with us on Twitter @NewVictory, #BelloMania! And don't miss BELLO MANIA at the New Vic, April 15 – May 1.
Posted by Zack Ramadan

The Lorax
Empowered by his win, the Lorax reminds you to consider your environmental impact.

 

The madness is finally over! We've pitted classics against newcomers and award-winners against adorable animals, but in the end, there can only be one winner. Now, after weeks of cutthroat contests and five adrenaline-soaked rounds of voting, we're ready to anoint a Picture Book March Madness Champion!

Taking home the gold medal is that cute little environmental crusader and mouthpiece for the trees (for the trees have no tongues), The Lorax! Despite being shortish and oldish and brownish and mossy, he handily overcame the terrible roars and gnashing teeth that fill the pages of Where the Wild Things Are. Max and his wooly followers will have to settle for silver this year.

Even when gold and silver fall out of reach, hunger for that third spot on the podium will always drive fierce competition in the athletes who remain; and in our race for the bronze, the medal went to the hungriest competitor of all, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Colorful congratulations to our little-newcomer-that-could, though, The Day the Crayons Quit—a classic in the making for sure!

We began this tournament with thirty-two beloved picture books, and they're all worth a read. Here's a complete list, broken down by category:
 
Caldecott Medalists
Enchanting Newcomers
Animal Tales
Colorful Classics

Did your favorite finish less than first? Did we fail to include it altogether? That's okay! Heap praise on it in the comments below, and share it with all the book-loving kiddos in your life, you picture book evangelist, you!

As we celebrate The New Victory's twentieth birthday this season, we're highlighting some of the families who have been a part of our greater New Vic family for many years. For these parents and kids, seeing theatrical performances at the New Vic has become a tradition, and over the years they've shared their love of theater with their extended family and friends. This month, the spotlight is on Julia Levy and Ari Edelson, co-founders of the Culture Craver Kids app, and their son, Eliot!

 

Julia Levy and Ari Edelson with their two-year-old son, Eliot
Ari and Julia are starting their family theatergoing tradition early with their two-year-old son, Eliot.

Sleeping Beauty by Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company
Julia recalls bringing her niece to the New Vic in 2013 to see Sleeping Beauty by Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company.
"We love The New Victory," says Ari.

Julia agrees. "The standard of the work presented here competes with the greatest in the city. And we love that the productions visit from all around the world."

Ari and Julia, who share a profound #LoveOfTheater, were exposed to the performing arts when they were very young. Ari began staging puppet shows at the age of four, and Julia performed as a green bug at about the same age. They have been attending shows at the New Vic since 1999 and love the medium because "it's a platform for storytelling and idea sharing."

Ari describes theater as "the most collaborative artform, allowing audiences to create temporary communities that are inspired, illuminated or transported."

Because of Ari and Julia's work on Culture Craver Kids, theater is playing a larger part in their family life than ever before. Their son, Eliot, who turns two in May, is already becoming a connoisseur of the arts.

"We have started taking Eliot to some age-appropriate theater, and we want other families to be able to find more culture they'll love," says Julia. "New York City parents like us need a modern guide that knows the city and knows us."

With their new app, Culture Craver Kids, Ari and Julia are solving the discovery problem for families seeking ways to engage with the arts. "Looking at what's available on Culture Craver Kids, we are so excited for what's in store for Eliot," says Julia. "In the meantime, he's spending a lot of time listening to showtunes and visiting the city's museums and outdoor cultural experiences."

"As he grows up in New York City," adds Ari, "we can’t wait for him to see as much art, music, theater, and dance as possible." Of course, there's one obvious place to start. Eliot had his first New Vic experience in January when he and his cousins came to see Handa's Surprise, and they've been humming the fruit lullaby ever since.
 
 
Culture Craver Kids was developed in consultation with staff here at The New Victory, where we want families to make a habit of engaging with the arts. Culture Craver Kids makes it easier for parents to find those opportunities and discover new ones. Crave events that excite your family and rate culture you've seen together. Available for iPhone on the App Store. Check it out online at crav.es/kids!
Posted by Zack Ramadan

Written by Aliza Greenberg, Arts Enrichment Coordinator for LearningSpring School

"Are we going to The New Victory Theater?"

 

The staff of Autism-Friendly Spaces poses with the cast of THE GRUFFALO
Aliza, bottom row and left of center, gives good Gruffalo face with her fellow AFS volunteers at an Autism-Friendly Performance of The Gruffalo.
After attending Handa's Surprise at The New Victory Theater, I get asked this question by my youngest students almost every day. Handa’s Surprise wasn't designed specifically for kids on the autism spectrum, nor was the production adapted to be autism-friendly; but the format of the show and the welcoming environment that The New Victory provides allowed my students on the autism spectrum to have a fun, positive, memorable day at the theater.
 
LearningSpring School, where I am the Arts Enrichment Coordinator, is a school for students on the autism spectrum. From my past experiences with The New Victory as a volunteer with Autism-Friendly Spaces, I knew the New Vic to be committed to providing a supportive and inclusive theatergoing environment for young people with autism. 

The New Victory partners with Autism-Friendly Spaces to train their staff and help plan and coordinate their autism-friendly performances. While volunteering, I've seen a staff passionate about making their theater an inclusive space, and I've had the chance to collaborate with the fantastic New Victory Usher Corps. Everyone I've worked with at the theater has been eager to learn more about autism and provide the most comfortable theatergoing environment possible for this population, so I knew that even if the performance wasn’t specifically autism-friendly, it would still be a welcoming environment for my students. 

 

A stop-motion animation of a star falling from the sky, and a man and a cat climbing the mountains to retrieve it.
Student animation made in preparation for The Star Keeper.

A drawing of purple avocados annotated with 'My favorite part was the avocados'
Fruit-filled post-show reflection from Handa's Surprise.

A drawing of a smiling figure on a bed over water annotated with 'Imagination bed of magic!'
The best bed ever, from a post-show reflection following The Star Keeper.
Through the Education Partnership Program, my students and I have had the pleasure of attending three productions this year, and we have a fourth coming up in May. Not every show is the right fit for every student, so the New Victory Education staff worked with me to identify the shows that would best engage students on the autism spectrum at different ages. We chose shows that had multi-sensory engagement (words, music, strong visuals) but were not overly stimulating to the senses. The Education staff also seated our group close to the exits in case any of my students needed a break.

For each show we see, we begin preparing a month—sometimes two months—in advance. One of the ways we prepare is by learning as much as possible about the productions beforehand, and by engaging students in the art forms they will experience. For Handa's Surprise, we explored the book, re-enacted the story with fruit made from clay and learned some of the show’s music—the fruit lullaby has even become a classroom calming ritual! 

The New Victory Teaching Artists who visited our school also provided interesting ways to engage with the shows’ art forms. All the Teaching Artists have been eager to work with us and learn more about how to best support students on the autism spectrum. We have been able learn side by side as educators and artists in this process. 

Of course, necessary preparations extend well beyond engagement with story and art forms. Individuals with autism often do not know the social conventions associated with going to the theater, and the theatergoing experience can present many challenges. It's dark and quiet, and sounds and visual effects that excite the senses often occur without warning. There’s also little opportunity to move around.

To help prepare my students, I create social stories explaining the events and social expectations of the day. I also create theater strategy cards for them to be able to easily identify their needs using pictures during the show. For The Gruffalo, inspired by to the New Victory School Tool®, we all made Bravery Backpacks and filled them with calming strategies that students could use during the performance: putting on noise-canceling headphones, handling a fidget, asking for help from a teacher, getting a drink of water or taking a break.
 
Strategy card with a grid of simple images labeled 'I will remember to use whole body listening: eyes watch, ears listen, quiet mouth, body calm'
Strategy card with a grid of simple images labeled 'In the theater, I can point to a strategy to tell my teacher what I need: break, headphones, fidget, water, bathroom'
Example in-theater strategy cards, along with our Bravery Backpack worksheet.

My students love the theater, and they deserve to experience the joy of theatergoing as much as any kid. I look forward to more theaters presenting productions that support and engage individuals with autism. And just as The New Victory has welcomed our students to the theater, even when the performance was not specifically autism-friendly, I hope more theaters will begin opening their doors to individuals with autism. But to my kids' question, "Are we going to The New Victory Theater?", my answer will always be, "Soon!"

 


 
Aliza Greenberg Aliza Greenberg is the Arts Enrichment Coordinator at LearningSpring School. No stranger to the autism community, Aliza served as the Autism and Education Specialist with Trusty Sidekick Theater Company during their development of Up and Away. She also volunteers with Autism-Friendly Spaces and the Theater Development Fund's Autism Theater Initiative and is a Project Leader for the Museum Access Consortium's Supporting Transitions project. Aliza's brother is on the autism spectrum and, thanks to increasing initiatives to make theater autism-friendly, she brought him to his first performance last year!
Posted by Zack Ramadan

The jovial and jaw-dropping BELLO MANIA, featuring more mania than ever before, has made a triumphant return to The New Victory Theater! We caught up with Michael Karas, juggler extraordinaire and one of the newest members of Bello’s troupe, to find out how his #LoveOfTheater began. Haven’t had a chance to see Bello and his crew’s crazy antics yet? Check out our trailer, then read on for Michael's interview!
 

Michael KarasWhat inspired you to get into juggling?
When I was younger, I went to an arts festival in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, I remember watching a guy juggle three wooden mallets and play a song on a xylophone at the same time!  I thought it was the coolest thing, and I was inspired to learn absolutely everything I could about juggling. Not only was juggling fun, but it made people smile!

How did you hone your craft?
I learned how to juggle in a number of different ways. First, I read every book from my local library on how to juggle. The art really came to life for me when I was a child actor; I was in a show with a fellow actor who taught me the very basic skills of juggling. A few years later, another friend of mine taught me how to juggle three clubs. From there I began to teach myself, and often watched video tutorials to master different juggling techniques. I enjoyed juggling so much, it never felt like practice!

How did you conceptualize, and ultimately realize, your solo acts in Bello Mania?
I don't always perform in theaters as large as The New Victory, so right away I knew my acts had to be BIG! I made sure to use extra large rings and balls that would be bold enough for everyone in the audience to see, from the orchestra all the way up to the balcony.  

For the first act, I wanted to do something more along the lines of a "classic" juggling performance, so I chose jazzy music to accompany difficult and flashy tricks with clubs and rings. For the second act, I switched it up and used a mix of popular hip-hop songs to bring some "New York flavor" to Bello Mania. Lastly, I knew that Bello loves to be silly, so I had to bring my puppet act, "Mahna Mahna," to the show!
 
The tiny puppets of Comet in Moominland encounter a monster
The playful puppetry and detailed sets of Manitoba Theatre for Young People's Comet in Moominland opened our 2007-08 season.

Fred Garbo in an inflatable suit, Naielma Santos and an inflatable dog
In 2002, Fred Garbo and Naielma Santos of Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co. covered our stage with air-filled props, long before inflatable snowglobes were a thing.

We hear you saw Comet in Moominland and Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co. when you were a kid. Both shows played right here at the New Vic! Where did you see them?
I actually saw those shows back home in Pittsburgh where I grew up, but my memory of them has always stuck with me. I remember Comet in Moominland was performed "in the round," meaning the audience sat in all directions around the stage, and the action happened in the center—I didn’t know theater could be done in that way! When I saw Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co., it was on a very big stage; the entire production was so visually-striking, it’s something I’ll never forget.

How do you think your #LoveOfTheater has grown since those early theatergoing experiences?
My parents felt that taking their child to see theater was essential, and I'm so grateful they held that belief. As an adult, I still go to the theater quite often. I try to see around five to ten shows a month! I have always admired how fearless live actors, performers and entertainers are. Now that I’m older, and a performer myself, I understand how important it is to support live theater and entertainment.

In your New Vic Bill bio, you mention that you "LOVE being an audience member." Can you tell us more about that?
As much as I love performing, I also love being an audience member. Having been on both sides of the curtain, I can appreciate, as an audience member, the amount of work that goes into every single show. When I see a show, it inspires me to make my own art. Sometimes just sitting in a theater and watching a performance gives me hundreds of new ideas.

Why should families see Bello Mania?
Bello Mania is a perfect family show. It gets everyone laughing and saying "wow" together!  Kids will laugh at Bello's wacky shenanigans and adults will appreciate how skillful all the performers are. Bello's goal is to bring multiple generations together to laugh and be amazed at the same time. Kids will be inspired to try new feats and adults will re-connect with the curious child inside each of them.  
 
 
Bello Mania icon Be sure to catch Michael Karas and the rest of the BELLO MANIA family performing at The New Victory Theater through May 1, 2016. Who knows? Your #LoveOfTheater may begin—or grow—when you witness harrowing high wire hijinks, the show-stopping sway pole or Michael’s jazzy juggling!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
April 28, 2016

Growing Up Nock


Imagine going to work with your parents, but, instead of meetings and emails, there are high wire acts and vaudevillian gags! Thursday, April 28th is Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and while some kids are no doubt looking forward to a nine-to-five day at the office, kids like Annaliese Nock have had it a little better. In case her surname didn't clue you in, Annaliese's dad is none other than Bello Nock, comic daredevil and star of Bello Mania

The Nock family has been bringing the circus to town in one part of the world or another for 175 years! Annaliese is grown now, performing onstage with her dad in Bello Mania and a world record holder in her own right; but was a future of daredevildom always her plan? We recently sat down with Annaliese to learn more about what it was like "growing up Nock" in a family with such a celebrated lineage of performers.

 


Annaliese Nock hangs upside-down during her lyra act as Bello, ever the proud father, looks on with a smile.
When did you know you wanted to be a performer?
I don't think there was ever a single moment when I had that realization. I think it was just, as long as I can remember, what I wanted to do.  You have to put it into the context of my life. Performing was always my "normal." I thought that was what everyone either did or wanted to do! I still love it, and I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.

What is your earliest memory of seeing your dad perform?
That would have to be at the Big Apple Circus.  I was about a year and a half old.  I remember sitting in the seats and thinking, "I need to start stretching!"

Have you ever travelled to other parts of the world to perform with your family?
I have traveled all over the world with my family—to Japan, Australia, Russia, China and all over Europe! As soon as I was old enough, I started performing. The first place I performed was in the Ringling Bros. All Access Pre-show, where I performed my hand-balancing act. I performed a lyra act in the Big Apple Circus. Then I started practicing on the sway pole and the high wire with my dad, and finally the giant wheel. The wheel is my favorite act!  

You're part of an expansive daredevil dynasty. Do you ever feel pressure to live up to the Nock family's legacy?
Not pressure, just a drive and desire to!

When did you realize you wanted to become a daredevil?         
I think when I first started practicing on the wheel—a typically male-dominated act—I realized, "Hey, I want to do this act, and not a 'girl' version!"

When performing dangerous feats, do you ever get scared?
Yeah, but there are a lot of things in life that can be scary.  You have to push through being scared, and then the best feeling comes after you do something that once scared you!  My dad says that if you're not a little scared, something is wrong.  It's important to keep a healthy respect for the seriousness of what we do.
 
 
Bello Mania Icon Be sure to catch Annaliese Nock and the rest of the Bello Mania family performing at The New Victory Theater through May 1. See Bello hover over the audience on his show-stopping sway pole and be mesmerized by Annaliese's aerial act.
Posted by Zack Ramadan