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The Standing Rabbit

The Ordinary Acrobat by Duncan Wall

The Ordinary Acrobat by Duncan Wall

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The Ordinary Acrobat by Duncan Wall is a 322-page hardcover published by Alfred A. Knopf, stated first edition of 2013.  The condition is very good.

Book Summary

The extraordinary story of a young man's plunge into the unique and wonderful world of the circus-taking readers deep into circus history and its renaissance as a contemporary art form, and behind the (tented) walls of France's most prestigious circus school.

When Duncan Wall visited his first nouveau cirque as a college student in Paris, everything about it--the monochromatic costumes, the acrobat singing Simon and Garfunkel, the juggler reciting Proust--was captivating.  Soon he was waiting outside stage doors, eagerly chatting with the stars, and attending circuses two or three nights a week.  So great was his enthusiasm that a year later he applied on a whim to the training program at the Ecole Nationale des Arts du Cirque--and was, to his surprise, accepted.

Sometimes scary and often funny, The Ordinary Acrobat follows the (occasionally literal) collision of one American novice and a host of gifted international students in a rigorous regimen of tumbling, trapeze, juggling, and clowning.  Along the way, wall introduces readers to all the ambition, beauty, and thrills of the circus's long history:  from hardscrabble beginnings to gilded age treasures, and from twentieth century artistic and economic struggles to its brilliant reemergence in the form of contemporary circus (most prominently though Cirque du Soliel).  Readers meet figures past--the father of the circus, Philip Astley ; the larger-than-life P. T. Barnum--and present, as Wall seeks lessons from innovative masters including juggler Jerome Thomas and clown Andre Riot-Sarcey.  As Wall learns, not everyone is destined to run away with the circus,  but the institution fascinates just the same.

ISBN:  978-0-307-27172-3

 

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