Big Apple Circus’s new production, Big Top Doo-Wop (Damrosch Park, through January 6), transports you to another time. This ’50s-inspired show pops with plenty of poodle skirts, Chuck Berry tunes, and lindy hopping. The opening number, choreographed by Lisa LeAnn Dalton, includes a dozen performers rocking around the ring to live music by the house band; kicking up their saddle-shoe, whitewall-sneaker, and roller-skate heels; and flying across a shiny soda-shop counter in a series of high-energy belly slides and acrobatics. The troupe even teaches the young audience how to hand jive. Big Apple’s great success is the ease with which it creatively blends traditional circus entertainment and its playful retro theme: The team of Russian trapeze artists here becomes a gang of greasers, and a clown impersonating Ed Sullivan announces upcoming acts. It’s a blast to the past, with attractions for every age group.
C.U.A.N.D.O is a run-down building on Second Avenue, but inside it proves art can be created in the wake of destruction. The October series there, entitled “From the Ashes” (produced by Ellie Covan and Amanda Gutowski of Dixon Place), brought in performers to reflect on the WTC disaster; one program included a handful of dancers in multidisciplinary works. In On the Verge, dancer-choreographer Thom Fogarty explored a range of emotions provoked by the disaster, throwing punch-derived movements and gestures, turning a “Hail Mary” into a “Fuck you” with one continuous slice of his arm (to thrashing music by Courtney Love), and then quietly fading away to softer movements of mourning. He finished by methodically folding a pair of pants into a triangle and walking slowly but steadily away, holding the fabric tightly to his chest, leaving the audience with a sense of strength in loss.