First of May

Walden, New York is home base of the Big Apple Circus. Here, the 150 members of the company gather from all over the country and the world to put together a new show for their year-long, town-to-town tour. As the sets are built, costumes designed and fitted, acts rehearsed and refined, we get acquainted with the members of the Big Apple family.

AIRED: November 02, 2010 | 0:53:41


♫Up and down the roller coaster♫

♫I prefer the never-ending fall♫

Load out, load in,

16, 20 hours a day. Put this tent up.

It takes a lot of heart. A lot of heart.


MAN: This is a one-ring, European-style circus.

You are right there.

You're eating popcorn and watching people

do amazing feats 50 feet, 40 feet,

20 feet in front of them.

♫Here is where the rude awakens...♫

MAN 2: The Big Apple Circus is special, you know?

It's the glory of circus

that a lot of people are interested in.

WOMAN: A lot of people say, "Oh, don't you want a normal life?"

And for me, this is normal.

♫The circus is all I got...♫

WOMAN 2: It's romantic. It exists not only in the books.

It's real and we get to live it.


♫And the crowd goes wild♫

♫Chalk it up to controversy♫

♫Stand up, shout out...♫

WOMAN 3: Nothing easy about the circus.

(thunder crashes)

We're here because we actually love it.


MAN: 150 people traveling, inevitably, you know,

all the things that happen to 150 people as a group

are gonna happen to us.

You're making the horse nervous.

On the belt! Shut up!


It's still, you know, magnified.

My brother is very, very complex.

Put your angles to the left.

Sometimes I feel like I'm dealing with somebody

that I never want to have anything to do with.

MAN 4: The circus is not in the tent.

You and your team are gonna blow the curtain away.

MAN 5: I came here with some baggage.

Baggage... (laughs)

This is a different side of the circus.

MAN 6: We have our snags, we have our bumps,

but we keep pushing on because everybody comes here

with their own story.

MAN 7: It's gonna be balls to the wall.

Just as large as I can make it.

♫Can you see me?♫

♫Can they beat me?♫

♫And the crowd goes wild!♫

♫So here we are♫

♫It's like we never really left the start♫

♫Time heals the wound♫

♫But then there's still a scar♫

♫To remind us of the way it's meant to be♫

♫Oh, sing a song♫

♫A melody for what has come and gone♫

♫Try to convince the choir to sing along♫

♫Here's to tomorrow or whatever gets you by♫

♫Oh, la, la-la♫

♫La, la, la-la, la, la-la, la, la-la♫

♫La, la, la-la, la, la, la, la, la-la♫

♫La, la, la-la, la, la-la, la.♫

My name is Sarah Schwartz. I'm from Germany.

I'm Heidi Weirbelus, and I'm from Colorado most recently.


Raul Lancheros.

I'm from Colombia.

♫My name should be trouble♫

WOMAN: My friend called me "Dodo."

♫For trouble and heartache♫

Adriene Lastocene from Florida.

United States, Florida.

All right, well, which name do you want?

My name is Andrey Mantchev, and I was born in Bulgaria.

Most people call me Jay, and I'm from all over.

Austin Sanderson, and I grew up in Alabama.

WOMAN: Los Angeles, California.

Barry Lubin, and I play the character "Grandma."

I'm from New York.

This half, I'm Mexican,

this half, I'm Italian,

and this half, I'm American.

Sort of felt like a runaway my whole life,

running from problems.

And the best way to do it

is run away with the circus.

MAN: People do run away and join the circus.

They can be running from the law,

they can be running from their past

even if it's legal.


MAN: One of the reasons was I was in a bad relationship.

It was good to run away from her.

WOMAN: It's pretty much just working with your family.

You know, you love 'em, you hate them.

It's like nothing you've ever done before,

and no job is ever

gonna compare to working for the circus.

AUSTIN: Here, they bring their dogs,

their cats, their wives,

their children-- and for a whole year

these people come together as a family.

MAN: I do consider the circus home now.

They're like my brothers.

And some distant cousins--

for the ones I don't like.

Thank you.

SARAH: There's all these different

kind of people.

The story of each person here in the circus

is so different.

MAN: The real circus comes when

the gates are closed.

We're a bunch of gypsies.

♫It is my name.♫

Grab a seat, Andrey.

Sarah, grab a seat. Let's go.

Good... morning everybody!

Dobroe utro!

Bonjour. Buenos dias.

Ni hao ma.

Howdy. How the heck are ya? And welcome.

We are so glad that you are here

as we begin our journey of "play on."

We need to craft this show so that it has

the feeling of a roller coaster ride.

And we'll see how it plays out as we put it all together.

I ask for your indulgence,

your patience and your professionalism.

Because, four weeks from now, believe me, we will have a show.

Thank you so much.

I look forward to working with you all.

My name is Steve Smith and I am the guest director

here at the Big Apple Circus.

We are currently in the lovely village

of Walden, New York.

Once a year, the Big Apple Circus comes to Walden

to put together a brand-new show.

A four- to five-week process of rehearsals that involve

production numbers for the entire company,

transitions and linkage pieces

to tie the acts together.

All of that has to happen simultaneously

with the costumes being built

and suited for each of the individual artists,

the music being crafted and put together

for each individual act,

and all of it has to come together

in that four- to five-week period.

And I, this short little busy man

will run into the ring and say, "This is great!

I want you to take this prop and run across the ring."

What they're saying to each other is,

(Slavic accent): "What is little bald man telling me?

I must carry rubber chicken into ring? I don't do this."

WOMAN: Okay, let's line up right here in the middle.

Make a line shoulder-to-shoulder.


MAN: Trying to see who's the...

"Oh, you're a flyer

and you're an equestrian."

It's hard to tell people apart just yet.

A lot of, a lot of in-shape people,

all with rock-hard abs.

♫It makes you want to move...♫

There's no time to get the names of everybody

'cause we're just in a ring working,

putting numbers together.

I believe she's our flyer

with the black top that's got the Guess,

with the curly hair. That's Monica Neves.

That's Monica, right. Thank you.

People are still coming up

saying, "Who's who?"

Who's Marty and who's Jake?

Uh... Which side...?

Yes, I can tell you.

Uh, Marty is over here,

All right. Jake is over here.

Paul and Michael were the co-founders

and Steve is the what?

Are you having the two clowns clear out right away?

'Cause I'd like them to splat on the floor.

Yeah. No, they splat and stay. Perfect.

Mr. Heroy, are you hitting the ground?

Uh, no. Okay?

Will I? Will you?

Would you like me to?

Well, at least give me

a deep plie dip just... for recovery.

My name is Glen Heroy

and I am the oldest newbie you will find.

He's hitting the ground.

You don't have to go all the way,

Okay. but I need you... just make it bigger, okay?

GLEN: This is my first time in the Big Apple Circus,

and my wife is a little teary

and a little lonely right now.

She explains this as,

"This is his childhood dream come true."

Are you okay with that?

Yeah, yeah.

I don't want to do anything

that makes you feel uncomfortable.

It just reads so much better. Yeah.

He is a very successful stage clown...

I didn't know if you wanted bookends or...

...but he's never been in a circus.

We call those people "First of Mays"--

a first-year clown.

Knee pads. Yeah.

It's not that he hasn't had success as a clown.

This is very, very different.

It is the big leagues.

STEVE: The Rodion came with three, not four,

and that's going to be the way it is, right?

As far as I know, for now, yes.

I think it is the...

the word is, they're still looking

for a partner. The complication is

that the visa was never given out.

They have had a terrible time

finding somebody, so I don't know.

Over the weekend, there was some buzz going on,

and I just want to make sure I understand correctly.

The Nanjing?

MAN: One of them did not get the visa,

so what we have now is a duo

instead of a trio.

(pulleys squeaking)

STEVE: Uh, the Flying Neves?

MAN: Honestly, I have no idea

what shape the act is in because of

all the changes they've had. But they're here.

MAN: They're here. They already started rigging yesterday.

STEVE: Okay. MAN: And, uh, when they start flying,

that's when we'll have an idea.

(speaking Portuguese)

WOMAN: We all have really high hopes

for being in here and getting used to...

where everything is on the ceiling

and being able to make our marks.

Not this troupe, no. Neither of us have.

So, we spent the last month

and a half together trying to practice.


We chose Florida as our place to practice,

which wasn't real smart, 'cause we got a lot of rain,

so there were a lot of times that we couldn't practice.

But, um... but it's good,

now that we're here, 'cause we're indoors, so...

hopefully, we'll make any of the adjustments

we have to make.

And then, uh, we have another flyer who's coming.

She is new to the team.

We're all new to the team.

Of course, in the first day, it's just a little... you know,

but I think we're gonna have four weeks--

I think it's gonna be fine after a few days.

I'm Josuber Neves.

My name is Monica Neves.

We are the Flying Neves.

JOSUBER: We are from San Paulo, Brazil.

Okay, wait, wait. Okay.

JOSUBER: I'm the third generation

Flying Neves, you know?

MONICA: And I'm the third generation of my family-- Higolito--

and I started to work when I was nine years old

with my father and my mum.

They do flying acts, too.

So I love that.

That's my life-- to be in the air.

WOMAN: Most people who have been doing flying trapeze

are born into it; have been doing it

since they were kids.

It's not common to have a troupe like ours,

where three of the five people

are not born into circus.

How are you? Hi. Pleasure to meet you, Kristen. How are you.

Nice to meet you. Hi. Are you Monica? My pleasure.

Hi. Hey.

How are you? Great. How are you?

I'm Elizabeth.

I'm the fourth flyer of the flying trapeze troupe.

Right now, I'm dealing with the healing

of a broken metatarsal bone in my foot.

Tomorrow, I'll see the doctor--

the orthopedist-- for an X-ray,

and hopefully, he'll cut this thing off.

And I'm just anxious to get up in the air.

I can't wait to get up in the air again.

It's no fun being grounded.

You're doing all good.

JOSUBER: Our group now is four girls.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Okay, just move in a little bit, that's it.

Not the... not the gentleman.

Gentleman, stay.

JOSUBER: We work together to make this new act we do now.

And I hope it's going to be all right.

Because, you know, we get here, everything is different here.

MONICA: And we have just womans flying, but doing doubles

and triple and the Russian swing,

so we want to do something nice.

I am living in the trailer. I am living the circus life.

It's great.

MAN: My trailer--

well, I work on it a lot.

Simple stuff, but, you know,

just to make sure that when you come

after a hard day of work outside and muddy and whatever,

you come in, you feel cozy, you feel at home.

You don't feel in a trailer park.

You have to do the best that you can

when you have a trailer. Wake up.

So me and my brother live in a couch that flips open.

And we live... we sleep together in there.

Let's go!

It is a lot like camping year-round.

I have electricity, but that's just about all that I have.

(man speaking native language) Hi.

MAN: Life in a trailer is not for everybody.

Spend the rest of the day deep-cleaning my trailer

so I can move in,

make myself at home.

Because I'll be here for 11 months.

MAN: You're never going to open that black water valve again

unless you're being pumped out.


Does that make sense? Yes.

And essentially they'll... Do it.

do it for you. Yeah.

So never open that again.


GLEN: I've been homeless,

I've been bankrupt, I've been divorced.

I've had a nervous breakdown.

I can ace this trailer.

STEVE: Follow where the flags are, where the little whirligig is,

that's where you live, Steve.

Okay, boom, I'm home.

Come on in.

Home is where you hang your hat.

And right now, it's in Walden, New York.

There's something very comforting about

stepping into your own trailer.

And if you have grown up in circus,

it seems very odd to have a house

that's on a concrete foundation,

that isn't going to move when you have the whim, whimsy

or opportunity to go where the wind blows you.


All right, well I... oop!



HEIDI: The way the determine where you live around here

is, basically, by your job.

The camper jobs are for the highest-up management

and performers.

Everybody else lives on Sleeper Row.

There are different versions of our walk-in closets.

You can have a three-person, a two-person

or a one-person walk-in closet.

This is my closet.

This is my bed.

This is my roommate's. This is a third bunk up here.

It's like a coffin when you sleep up there.

You can't get out.

WOMAN: They don't have any bathrooms.

They have to go outside to shower.

Take a look inside.

That's sewage.

Now turn around, and that's where we live.

Welcome to the circus.

Take a look.

This has got to be a health hazard of some sort.

MAN: Goes back to feudalism.

There's serfs and then you have lords and ladies

and the crew bears the brunt

of the tough living.

Remember guys, we're doing this for the kids.

And my name is Tom the Kid.

BARRY: I don't think people come here on rain crew

thinking this is what they want do for their lives.

It's kind of an interlude in their lives,

and it's an effective one, when you're real young,

because we feed you and we give you a place to stay

and we pay you.

If you're not in the army, where else are you going

to get that kind of a thing to happen?

Everything is covered.

You can leave your lights on 24 hours a day,

if you're scared to sleep in the dark or something,

and it's-it's...

You can't ask for nothing better.


We're taking this down so it's level.

And we put the other two rings.

My name is Thomas Dakoto.

I was born in Portland, Maine,

but I... most of my life in the Bronx, New York.

The circus got me away from the streets,

away from drugs.

I was with my brother before I came here

and all I was eating was five dollars of food a day.

My brother was buying food for me

and I just got to the point where I didn't want my brother

to be supporting me no more.

My brother-- he's sick with cancer,

so he's a lot of my motivation not to do any bad.

For the last times I do have with him,

I don't want him seeing me as this thug

or this kid in the streets.

At any time, it could be just me and my sister,

so this is a nice place to meet and have a bigger family.

MAN: The ring crew does have

a certain amount

of brotherhood, if you will.

We all have to work together to be able to make

anything work.

We are literally putting the show together.

and come up with the ideas, you know,

but I am the one who's there putting it together--

really making it happen.

My name is Yuri.

I'm originally from a little tiny town

called Denison, Iowa.

I didn't tell anyone

that I was running away to the circus.

My mom was away on vacation.

I sold my car, I sold everything I had,

and I got on a plane.

So when she came home, I was not there,

my car was not there,

no one had seen or heard from me in upside of two weeks.

And then I finally gave her a call

and told her I was at the circus.

I came here with my wife Heidi.

Literally, what you see on me right now,

and my wife, is what I've got left in this world.

Enjoy the work.

I like watching it all come together,

but much more than that, it's a job.

It's more than a job-- it's home and it's food.

Yeah, they do provide a place to sleep and food.

I like that.

My husband is Ryan Clark. He's on ring crew.

Ryan prefers to go by Yuri.

Pull that bolt out.

HEIDI: He's a very, very

intriguing person.

That doing anything for you down there?

We met in elementary school in the third grade.

HEIDI: When I moved to Colorado with my dad,

when I went to my new school, he was the first person I met,

and we used to play on the playground.

YURI: Right before I was going

into basic training, we decided we were going to get married.

It was a little bit of a shock to my parents,

'cause we were so young,

but, um, it's working out really well.

YURI: A lot of people told me that it would be a bad idea

for me to marry that girl,

and I'm out to prove

that I can do whatever the hell I want to do.

In my relationship with Heidi,

my expectations are to come out of the circus

a step up from where we were before.

HEIDI: I'm a horse groom.

I do everything that has to do with the barn--

cleaning stalls, taking care of the horses,

bathing them when they're done working,

saddling them up to go.

Just caring for the horses, and that's

what I like to do,

so that makes it fun automatically.

When I'm at work, I work with Christine and Sultan.

They're the trainers.

SULTAN: Heidi, push him a little bit more with your heels.

HEIDI: Everyone, right now, is a new person here

and the horses are new, so everybody's just still

kind of feeling it out and seeing how it goes.

And it's neat to watch the act

form into something real

instead of just horses running in a circle.

I'm Christine Zerbini. Nine generations of circus,

which means my family has been in it for about 200 years,

performing and making people smile.

I've done everything from aerial to animals,

riding elephants; I'm in the arena with tigers,

a little bit of everything.

But this is our first time performing

with the Big Apple Circus.

Good boys. Easy now.

Good boy, George.

Developing this year's act was set in two parts:

the big and little;

where you have a very large draft horse and a very small,

fully proportioned small horse.

We're also performing what is known as dzhigitovka--

trick riding.

Trick riding originated from Genghis Khan.

That's how they used to have their battles out.

They could drag and act dead next to the horse.

They would go underneath the horse while it's running,

so, that way, they could get away

from the enemy or shoot the enemy.

Um, so this is just

a performance of that

with a little bit of gymnastics

to make everything look very graceful.

Here, here, up... here, here...

PAUL: It's important to say we work with working animals.

We don't work with wild animals.

We work with animals that, traditionally,

men have always had relationships with--

have trained-- human beings have trained horses,

have lived with horses,

have lived with dogs, have trained dogs

for hundreds and thousands of years, at this point.

SULTAN: You staying a little bit here,

yeah, so it's in the high point.

Lower yourself more.

And then, as you get up...

Sultan Kumazbayo is a Kazakh,

and, you know,

about 98% of the Kazakhs-- and I'm sure he's one of them--

are descendants of Genghis Khan.

When you see Sultan and Christine, you know,

these are the descendants of the great horse people

of the world, and they think like the animal.

The animal responds to them

because the animal sees them

as the same blood, if you will.

(Sultan speaking native language)

(kissing sounds)

CHRISTINE: Originally, when we talked to Paul and Guillaume,

their idea was to have some company members in,

just to give a good, full feeling of the act.

SULTAN: Lower yourself. Lower yourself more.

Okay, sit down.

CHRISTINE: Andrey, he is a very skillful acrobat,

so he knows his body,

but being on the horse,

you have to learn the horse's movement,

when to judge

that they're going to move,

when to judge that they're going to see something.

It's not just you.

See, Paul?

He's a good boy, isn't he? Good horse.

Sometimes the horse can spook.

You have the shift, you know?

ANDREY: Yeah, yeah.

SULTAN: Fast, you know?

PAUL: One of the great things

about our company artists--

and Andrey and Sarah are company artists--

it's in their nature; they always want to do more.

And it's in my nature to say,

"Don't do anything more than is absolutely safe."

What Sarah's putting on now is a... a mechanic.

It's like a protection belt, kind of.

So, if she falls,

the person who's holding the other end

can prevent her fall.

Yeah. Good idea.

SARAH: Everything is dangerous.

I mean, even when you go

to the toilet, you have to go

through stakes of the tent, or whatever.

(laughing): I mean, it's just

a dangerous world, you know?

(observers groan)

(observers groan)

SARAH: You're always scared

and you better be, because that

helps you to be aware

of the danger that is coming,

that could come,

and always be prepared, you know?


(speaking in native language)


I don't need anything big. Something simple.

Simple, yeah.

Simple and safe. That's the idea.

Exactly, yeah.

Simple, that would be good.

(acrobats exclaiming)




HARMONY: My family thinks that I'm crazy

for wanting to be in the circus.

They think that I need to grow up.

They don't understand it at all.

If you ask me, it was perfect.

One, two, one, two.

HARMONY: My name is Harmony French

and I'm originally

from California.

This is my first season with the Big Apple,

and, embarrassingly,

this is my fifth flying trapeze troupe that I've worked with.

All right.

It's rare to meet people like me

who mostly fill in for other people.



ELIZABETH: I was actually working as a loan officer on Wall Street

in a private banking situation,

and I pursued flying trapeze, mostly on the weekends,

and I would go

and work on flying; I loved it.

Just at the end of the day,

when I look at how I've spent my day,

I want to be happy

th what I've been spending my time doing,

because really, for a job, that's what you're doing.

You're selling your life, so this is how I like

to spend my time.


GLEN: Walden is about lots of bugs, lots of leaves,

lots of trees, spotty cell phones and e-mail.

Makes me feel a little more distant from home.

I know it's the place to just concentrate

on what I need to get done.

Time is just going to open really fast,

like a tear in the bottom of a rice bag that,

"Oh, I can get home,"

and just a few grains of rice are coming out,

and then it just opens up, and you're just out of rice.

Gonna go into the tent for the first time... ever...

and try on the piece I'm going to be doing

in front of Steve.

I have an entree.

My entree is called "Lead a Band."

It was done in the Circus previously

by the creator of Big Apple Circus, Paul Binder.

They gave me

a reference DVD,

(whispering): which I promptly lost.

(laughing): Don't tell anybody. Don't.

And I was like, "I'm doomed."

And the two weeks I gave myself to cram this DVD,

the first week was spent trying to find the DVD.

One, two, three, and fake a baton.

I often don't work smart.

I like to work hard,

and I'm certainly getting that here.

I kind of feel like I'm auditioning

for my own job, but...

Could be worse.

Could be raining.

I was homeless in the early '80s

for about six months,

living on the F train,

sleeping wherever I could.

Came to New York City to do a show,

and the show fell through and next thing you know,

you're in the middle of Times Square

with everything you own in a trunk.

Bump off on them. Spotlight's on you.

Go! (music plays)

GLEN: You know, you shower where you can

and keep your spirits high

and figure it's all going to work out

eventually, so...

("Dueling Banjos" playing)

I used to play spoons in front of Macy's

to get lunch money.

I had been playing Santa Claus

at Macy's for about 12 years, on and off...

...and was doing

some corporate event as Dr. Evil...

(light saber buzzes)

("Cantina Band" plays)

...chasing a little person around,

who was dressed like Mini Me.

And I was yelling, "Come here, you bastard."

And Big Apple saw me and said,

"Get that guy an audition."

What if we restructure? Mm-hmm...

I'll just throw this out at you.

GLEN: The crash and burn factor can happen at any time,

but we're not splitting an atom.

We're not finding a cancer cell.

We're spending seven minutes to act like an idiot

to make somebody laugh.

Thank you, gentlemen. Thanks, Steve.

A pleasure. A pleasure. Till the next time.

Steve is so energetic.

I know Steve enjoys a Warner Brothers cartoon.

Without me saying "I really want this

to be Bugs Bunny conducting an orchestra,"

I'm trying to channel that.

Oh, the dogs are out.

That's the act before mine.

How do you follow 60 dogs?

(cheering, shouting happily)

Whoo! Yay!

Pardon me just a minute.


Oh, you're here.


Welcome to Camp Walden.


Oh, oh...

WOMAN: He's everything to me.

Um, he's my life partner

for the last 24 years.

A little road stupid?

I'm a little road stupid.

We met at Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater.

(laughs) Mm-hmm.

I was the, uh, director of development

for a franchise in New York

and Steve was our theater expert from Chicago.

It's amazing what you can get in a Miata.

STEVE: It wasn't exactly love at first sight,

but it sure was infatuation at first sight.

And the love came soon after.

We're good. It's good.

Ready? Ready.

(Steve sings fanfare)

Oh, it's good!

(heavy accent): I've turned her into gypsy woman.

Is fabulous.

Pardon us.


So, what I want to do here

is give you all a, uh, little personal tour.

As you see, it's a country space.

It's surrounded by trees and trees are, you know, all around.

PAUL: I'm Paul Binder.

I am the founder-artistic director to Big Apple Circus.

This is the electrics area.

Our prop area; our prop-building area.

The mechanics' shop.

The practice ring for animals.

The One Ring Schoolhouse, which is our school.

Our summertime white tent.

The cookhouse-- and I gather there's pizza for lunch today.

There are three meals a day

being prepared in the cookhouse,

primarily for the staff and the working people.

The artists do most of their own food preparation.

It's like a little, um, colony, as you can see.

YOUNG MAN: My dad's a bright guy. He's a rock star.

You know, he really created something out of nothing here.

PAUL: It took my parents a long time to kind of settle in

to what I finally chose as a profession.

I was born on the streets in Brooklyn.

I wasn't born on the streets. I was born in Brooklyn.

A little bit up.

Up! Yes, there you go.

Earliest memory of my mom when she came to Big Apple Circus:

"When are you going to get a real job?"

Now, put your weight a little bit on it.

Work with your arms a little bit.

Here we go.

I mean, I sort of had a predetermined life,

but they really were proud when they died,

of what we had accomplished and what we'd done.

SULTAN: Morning, Paul.



See, you rise too soon.

This why I told you to correct yourself first.

SULTAN: This is a big deal

because I've never been the head of the troupe before.

And you have to

worry a lot, every single day.

My hand. I'm not...

I see the mistake now.

Basically, when you go...

CHRISTINE: It's the training and the preparation

that is the most dangerous.

I get nervous every time we're out there.

Just 'cause they're animals and you never know what can happen.

Whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa.

Easy. Easy, easy, easy.

Oh, (bleep). We need a vet now.

What happened?

We need a vet now.

SARAH: I'll go and run.

His face is peeled open.

It's okay.

The rest of him looks good, his legs look good.

My (Russian word) baby.

The vet is gonna come

from Pine Bush.

Whoa, baby, whoa.

SULTAN: See, for me, the safety is priority.

So, if something like this happens

in the middle where people are sitting,

imagine the result.

Somebody getting killed, unfortunately.

CHRISTINA: We went over his whole body.

His legs looked good.

He's got some scratches

and he's got one here in the front but I didn't see

anything and he's walking good. All superficial, huh.


PAUL: Right now I've suspended training of that...

of that act because I want to take it one step at a time,

to make sure that we're secure.

It's not a good thing that's happened here; it's a bad thing

and, uh, I want to make sure we don't move forward without

considering every aspect of it.

No rubbing for at least two or three days.

Yeah, of course, so that he doesn't bother the sutures.

If he does it, it'll open again. Yeah, okay.

Don't worry, the dead guy's in the bottom.


Yuri, you're gonna bring this piece here, okay?

Smiley, you're gonna bring the other one, okay? Okay.

YURI: Ring crew is probably the best job

I've ever had in my life.

Junior, you're gonna hook it up.

It is an amazing place and there are things

that happen here that make me feel

like I'm-I'm truly part of something important.

You have room in the back to run a little bit more?

Yeah. So we can go faster?

Where you finish?

I've done so many other jobs

where I just felt like a lackey,

you know, I was just a guy doing a job there.

I wasn't really needed.

You know, when I'm here and I'm working with ring crew,

I know that I'm needed.

We're doing all of this

for just one cheap bit.

We're lowering that waistband. Okay.

That's good. We're lowering the waistband

but they need to have a hem put in them.

They don't have a hem put in 'em. Okay.

I'm Austin Sanderson

and I'm the costume designer.

Where do you get this stuff from?

The mall. (laughing) So, people ask me, like...

WOMAN: Oh, you do not!

AUSTIN: The biggest difference between working for Big Apple

and working for a theatrical company

is that you're designing for athletes,

and they tend to, if,

when they voice opinions about the clothes,

usually they're very technical.

They're that they need to see their feet

or a sleeve is too big

or that they need not to have a sleeve.

And then that slve there in the velvet will be cut off.

'Cause she needs to see his collarbone.

Turn around, let me take a look at you.

That looks awesome.

You like it?

I feel like a starburst.

AUSTIN: My favorite costume? That's hard.

I-I love what we've put the ring crew in.

I think they're my favorite because

it's so different for those guys.

So, what are you... what are you gonna go by?

What name tag do you want in your clothes?

I would put Yuri on there 'cause like I said,

I'm waiting for that paperwork

to go through the U.S. government.

Yuri it is.


Yes! They look so cool!

Don't they? Yeah.

Big smile. Yeah. I'm working.

Love it!

♫I'm your private dancer...♫

Slash high.

I know! Look at these fumes, man! Damn!

I'm still on probationary period, Smiley.

Just being a new hire...

But you still get paid money, right?

I still getting paid but they can walk up to me

right now and say, "You're done."

Yeah, that's true. And I can walk away, after...

They probably won't.

I don't think they will

'cause I haven't really done anything

to get canned other than, you know, yesterday.

SMILEY: What did you do that jeopardized your job?

You thought.

I disappeared for, like, two hours.

'Cause I was having an anxiety attack.


Did I stress you out by asking that question?

No, not really. Good.

You know... it's just kind of my business, you know.

I hear you but you made it our business

by not showing up to work.

No, I know, I know, I made it everybody else's business.

Yep, you ever heard "Keep your blues out the door"?


SARAH: Since the horse had the accident, we had a break

but now Andrey and I, we are on the horses again,

we have all the tricks in again and I'm very happy.


For now, Paul wants to keep the safety belt on, and...

well, this is my opinion,

I like to work without the mechanic especially for...

Good girl, very good practice.

TOMMY: You learn so much here, you know, from grounds work

to construction, carpentry, all types of stuff.

It's a great opportunity for anybody.

And they never discriminate race, color, religion,

records, jail, anything.

They believe in second chances all around.

Hey, Tommy?

I've got, like, other batteries with more juice,

if that's what you...

Is that just dead?

TOMMY: A lot of our supervisors tell us,

"learn everything you can learn so when you leave here..."

I always stop them; I'm like,

"Oh, no, there's no 'when I leave here.'"

There's, "I'll be here for ten years

and unless you guys tell me to leave, I'm not leaving."

Tommy, I need your hand with something, please?

TOMMY: This is like something to keep me grounded.

The people we work for, they make it very easy

not to get in trouble, 'cause I've never worked for

a group of people like this.

They're more than just our bosses, they're family.

It's a very home... homey feeling.


Can't get no better.

Rent-free, you eating free,

all you gotta do is save your money,

live life, stay out of trouble.

With certain people, they come from trouble

so they come here and cause trouble.

(siren wailing)

Somebody tried blowing up the building.

(siren wailing, engine revving)

A bomb threat at the circus?

Who would want to bomb the circus?

HEIDI: Right now, the police are here and they are pulling apart

a couple of people's rooms and they are investigating,

uh, my husband supposedly

making a bomb threat on the circus.

He said he had some bomb pipes

somewhere, so right now,

we're just seeing what's gonna happen.

They're searching his room right now.

They're searching everything.

They evacuated the whole building until 7:00.

HEIDI: It's bad news.

I mean, they searched his room.

I mean, it's crazy, dude.

What we'll probably do

is have the judge do an order of protection

just to keep him away from here.

HEIDI: They didn't find anything.

I mean, there's nothing for them to find.

They went through my computer, they flipped up all the beds.

I mean, it's clean.

Once, I was in the tent,

Yuri was like, "See this phone right here?

I press any number, and I could detonate a bomb."

That's my statement.

OFFICER: Ryan will be charged when we have enough statements.

He'll be arraigned before a judge

and the judge will make the determination

to pursue bail, um, or send him to, uh, Orange Countyil.

He was supposed to be on medication because of

some issues he had while he was in boot camp.

They said it was panic disorder and separation anxiety.

So, I mean, it's $800 a month

Wow! for the medication he's supposed to be taking.

If he gets fired, you gonna leave, too?

You know, it depends on what he says when he gets back.

Everything has been more or less okay until now.

♫When I was a boy♫

♫Mother said, "Son, gotta learn how to walk♫

♫Before you can run"♫

♫But I never listened the way that I should♫

♫Ran out of the valley and into the woods♫

♫Oh, didn't know where I was bound♫

I'm in the tent, if you need me.

Shall we?



I know, I'm on my way.

♫I'm taking the highs, taking the lows♫

♫Traveled the wide and the narrow♫

♫ and someone took it the way he said it.

Are you still working with BAC?

Um, yes, I am.


getting you a therapist. Yeah.

And helping to cover your medication.

And then... something else happened

that ended with them calling the cops.


That was not the entirety of BAC.

I don't know who actually made the call.

I've been trying to find out for the last 24 hours.

I still don't know.

All right.

I hear Tommy threatened to quit if they didn't

do something about it.

So they called the police.

TOMMY: This is where I live.

This is my family-- each and every person on this lot.

And if he really did have something stashed,

a pipe bomb in the warehouse or something,

it wasn't one of us going to find it.

It was going to be one of these little kids.

If he stashed it, stashed it,

they're going to be the one to find it.

He said it wasn't his first time doing it.

He did it in his high school.

YURI: No, but it was a bad day.

So, yeah?

What you gonna get?

If only you knew what it was like.

Big, old, thick Plexiglas walls, like, this thick.

Concrete all the way around you.

The doors have those, like,

Jurassic Park velociraptor, like, fah-boom!


I think we're finally ready to order. All righty.

Can I get a little dish of ranch with these? Sure.

Thank you. What would you like?

Um, I'll have the linguine with clam sauce.

White? White, please.

So what are your plans once my court date is done

and we know whether I'm going to jail or not?


What are your plans,

or what are you thinking about?

I'm planning to stay with the circus.

For how long?

I don't know.

However long it takes you to get home

and figure out where you're gonna be

and what you're gonna be doing.

In all honesty, right now,

I'm not quite sure.

I got one idea in my mind

that I know no one is going to like.

I want to leave the country.

"Never come back" kind of leave the country.


Okay. (laughs)

YURI: Canada, Mexico, Bahamas.

In all truth, I think if I'm going to go

somewhere new, I'm gonna go to Nassau.

Because there's a tourist industry there

and they need people that can speak English.

I'm going to claim refuge in Nassau.


As far as...

even having no money-- look at this.

I can go out into the Caribbean Ocean

with nothing, nothing-- Okay.

butt-naked, and dive out, you know, ten feet of water,

and go and fish for conch.

Conch is that meat. Yeah, I know, I know.

Right, it's like $14 a pound.

HEIDI: ay.

Yeah, gonna need some more time to process on that one.

Yes. How do I fit?

You can come with me or stay here.

HEIDI: If he was serious,

that's a major logistical issue in my life.

YURI: Excuse me, ma'am.

If he's not, then, you know, he's not.

Which is the way it usually is.

I mean, ideas like that, that he just randomly spouts off

rarely ever actually materialize to anything.

And you just kind of have to roll with it,

and remind myself that, you know, it's not going to happen,

and I just kind of let it slide and let him process,

'cause that's the way he works.

CHRISTINE: Just tell him, "allez!"

(kissing sounds)

Allez, up.

Andrey... go ahead and slow him down.

And then turn him.

PAUL: Stop! I want him on a belt!

Right now! CHRISTINE: He's warming up.

Stop the (bleep) horse!

Listen... Don't talk back to me!

I am so (bleep) sick of this!

I want you on a belt when you're on the horse.

Or you're out of the act, you understand?

On a belt! You're making the horse nervous.

Shut up! No.

CHRISTINE: Now he's gonna be confused

because of the little situation that went on.

Keep him trotting for, like, ten circles.

Um, we'll see where he's at.

Then we'll go into a canter

for warming up.

They are never going out of the belt as of this moment.

Oh, never, never, ever, never, never, never.

As of this moment, never.

Why take that risk? Oh, I see.

If it were regular vaulting, I wouldn't have a problem.

Because, in regular vaulting, you're inside the horse always.

You're taught how to fall into the ring, you know.

But they're outside the horse on a lot of these tricks.

I just got to prove to them that I'm not gonna...

you know, I can't be convinced.

We try to work with him.

Everything he asks us to do, we try to do it.

So, hopefully, he's pleased with us.

I hope so, you know, 'cause I do like to work with people,

not... not against them.

Did, um, did they talk to you about the order of the show?

And how many tricks they want?

No, nothing.

Okay. No.



KRISTEN: Since we all came from different backgrounds

we're all such different fliers.

I'm a good twister.

Harmony has a butt-load of power.


Monica has a great swing.

Her swing is just amazing.

She gets so high very quickly.

And Lizzie is very good with Uprise tricks,

where you get on top of the bar.

HARMONY: But I don't think Lizzie's ever done a forward Salto

in a professional environment.

I know that Kristen hasn't done her Layout Full Twist

in a professional environment.

And I've never done a double in a professional environment.

So you've got three people doing three tricks

that they've never done in front of an audience of people

on any kind of consistent basis.

No, no, no, no!

Go to the net, go to the net.

Harmony-- the time, the legs, everything's fine.

Just the bar.

Remember, just little back.

PAUL: With the Neves, it's not a comfortable position

to be in, to be that troupe

at this point,

because they have a lot of hard work to do

to get ready for the show.

And it's not like they're unwilling.

They're very willing.

It's up. Okay, up.

PAUL: There's a minimal number of tricks

that have to be done

in order to make it work.

But they know that.


STEVE: I'm just... I'm really concerned.

But all we can do is take it

a day at a time.

And see what happens.

I am currently packing me and Ryan's stuff,

and getting... just getting all of our stuff cleaned out of here

so that they can check him out of this room in the morning.

All the stress of everything that's going on,

it's just kind of too much.

And just decided to, you know,

leave the circus.

It is a really rough decision for me.

I'll have to find another job and everything,

and, you know, I've made friends here,

but my husband really needs my support right now,

HARMONY: We have ten practice days left until the dress rehearsal.

The countdown has started.

BARRY: I would say Glen is not ready for an audience at this moment,

but he's going to get one, anyway, on Monday.

STEVE: I need to move one act

out of the second half into the first half.

Move a first half act into the second half.

Oh! JOSUBER: We miss one time,

it's okay, but two or three is too much.

♫Most people love♫


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