Media Center: 'Ordinary Acrobat' by Duncan Wall
WHO: Duncan Wall
WHAT: THE ORDINARY ACROBAT: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present
WHEN: Published by Knopf February 28, 2013
WHERE: Set in France at the National School for the Circus Arts.
“A behind-the-scenes look into a world spectators know little about.
“For generations, people have run away to the circus; in 2003, Duncan Wall followed suit. After receiving a fellowship to study ‘contemporary circus,’ Wall enrolled in the National School for the Circus Arts in France, where he soon learned the stark differences between the American circus and the European model.
“Historically, European circuses were known for their intimate performances, while American circuses placed their focus elsewhere. ‘In the big American circuses,’ Wall writes, ‘all this familiarity and precision was gone, sacrificed for other pleasures: spectacle, pageantry, sensory stimulation.’
“While readers likely have some familiarity with the traditional circus performance, they will be surprised to learn the level of dedication required for performers to hone their skills. This proves particularly true in Europe, where performers are considered artists and masters of their craft. Upon his entrance into the National School, Wall was soon humbled to learn that he was no master. At the start of the semester, even a somersault proved too complex.
“Blending cultural history with biography, memoir and travelogue, Wall’s carefully balanced book is, in itself, a successful tightrope traverse.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
About the book | Author bio | Download the jacket or the author photo
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