Tonight at Chautauqua Institution, the performance is the Russian American Kids Circus. It was great to see their publicity photo on the front page of the paper, four kids riding giraffes. There was also another picture of a bunch of unicyclists. Has anyone ever seen the Russian American Kids Circus before? I can’t wait to see what these kids can do. It’s just what I need too…still waiting for my new cranks to come in to replace the broken one and really bummed out since I haven’t ridden in a week…this can be something of a unicycling fix.
I’ve never heard of this group and they live practically next door. Here’s the website, Russian American Kids Circus.
Wow, it was started by Alex Berenchtein, a guy I used to work with!
Alex has an interesting story himself. I used to work for a compnay called the National Circus Project, an arts-in-education company in New York, started by JeanPaul Jenack, son of the USA’s founder, Bill Jenack. In 1989, we started working with Sascha Slougotnis, a Soviet circus performer from Latvia. He came over totally raw, speakin no English at all. It was a fun learning process getting to know him and being able to work out how to perform with him, even though he still had no language.
Anyway, after Sascha had been with us for a year or more, he was in NYC, walking through Central Park, I believe. He saw someone walking toward him who looked familiar. “Alex?” And sure enough, it was Alexander Berenchtein, who he knew either from circus school or from working together at some time in the past! What are the odds of running into someone from the other side of the world, who you haven’t seen in years?
Anyway, Alex was a recent arrival to the U.S., like many Soviet circus performers at that time, and was looking for work. He came to work for us at the NCP and I did many shows and workshops with him. His specialty was juggling a single soccer ball, which he was amazingly good at.
The story goes, once upon a time Alex went to the Russian state soccer team, to see if he could train with them on no-hands manipulation of the ball. He showed them what he could do, and they said, “No, you will train us!” That’s how good he was.
It’s great to see his and Regina’s venture is obviously bearing fruit! Congratulations to them! I’ll have to drop them an email.
The funny part: The Russian part of the Russian American Kids Circus, apparently, is him. All the kids are from Brooklyn!
I saw the show last night and it was definitely impressive! They pulled out the unicycles early in the show and had about 10 riders on stage from giraffes to very little kids riding tiny unis. They did some tricks: one-footed riding, wheel-walking, jumping rope. Also, they did lots of juggling and acrobatic stuff as well.
What a fun job it would be to organize something like that…teaching all those kids such fun skills and building their confidence like crazy.