Fantastic feats, music combine for mini-circus

by Hank Leukart | 5/8/98 5:00am

Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages, step right up! This Saturday night, the Hopkins Center will be converted into a circus tent -- and critics will be pleased that the conversion has nothing to do with architect Robert Venturi.

Instead, the changes will be the result of Dartmouth Wind Symphony conductor Max Culpepper and the famous Big Apple Circus.

Founded by Dartmouth graduate Paul Binder '63, the New York City-based Big Apple Circus is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. The circus is known for its intimate one-ring setting and use of contemporary music, lighting and set design. While the entire circus will be performing on campus in July, this Saturday students will be treated to "Circus to Go," a lighter version of the production.

Greeting audience members at the performance will be members of the symphony acting as "barkers," old-time human advertisements for the circus. Additionally, clowns and mimes will entertain incoming guests.

Saturday's program will begin with music performed by the "Greatest Circus Band in Hanover" -- a.k.a. the Dartmouth Wind Symphony -- conducted by Culpepper. Kicking off the show will be "Light Cavalry Overture," a popular circus overture. Following will be "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite," a piece that all audience members will recognize as one of the most well known circus pieces.

The program will include "Lassus Trombone," a song by circus bandleader Henry Fillmore. The piece exploits the trombone section of the symphony, allowing musicians to perform "jazzy smears" in this trombone rag.

Cornet virtuoso Merle Evans will be revived for one last performance on Saturday through the "miracle of modern technology," according to the program.

During an extended intermission, the Courtyard Cafe will serve special circus delicacies such as hot dogs, cotton candy, crackerjacks and peanuts. Also during the break, a model circus will be on display in the foyer, and a few yet-to-be announced entertainers will perform.

After intermission, the Big Apple Circus's "Circus to Go" will be the night's focus. After a parade of performers, Russian circus artist Natalia Burdetskiy will demonstrate the mesmerizing Diablo, a spinning spool controlled by two wands. This hypnotic demonstration is a regular part of the full circus and is not something to miss.

Following, Russian circus acrobat Arkady Burdetskiy will perform an acrobatic clown routine with a trained dog. Young performer Anna Jacks's "Hula Hoopla" routine will be the final act. Jacks has performed in circuses throughout Europe, and her skill will be quite evident on Saturday.

All three performers prepared with the breathtaking Moscow Circus and are well-trained professionals.

Old time sideshow performer Todd Robbins will be Ringmaster for the night before he leaves to prepare acts for comedians Penn & Teller's new television show.

Anyone who has seen the Big Apple Circus knows that it is not only for kids. Teenagers and adults will be just as delighted with the performance as young children will.

So, come one and come all! "Circus Spectacular" exhibits for one night only on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.