Many performers who grew up in the circus find it difficult to imagine another kind of life. Luciano and Gladis Anastasini who are in charge of this year's dog act, are no exception. Seven generations of circus performers have preceded them. Both grew up in the circus, and it is the only life they have ever known. The question is, will their sons Adriano and Brando carry on the family legacy?
Amid the final performances, we hear about everyone's plans for the future. Many will be leaving Big Apple Circus. Some have consciously chosen a different path. Others have no idea what they're going to do next. As the trailers pull out of the lot, and the tent comes down for the last time, we join in the time-honored circus farewell: not "goodbye," but "see you down the road."
We're in New York's Lincoln Center. The snow is coming down and the garden hoses that supply running water to the trailers are frozen solid. Still, the show goes on. Circus life can be a grind - and it isn't for everyone. A crewman, a trapeze artist, and even Artistic Director Paul Binder weigh their options and contemplate making a transition to the "real world."
On the eve of the first performance, a pivotal act is cut and the performers sent packing. Tensions are running high. Making matters worse, a seasoned company regular has been diagnosed with cancer and will drop out of the show. Lackluster ticket sales are not helping the situation. The next stop is New York City and as the trailers hit the road again, everyone knows what's at stake.
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.
The clock is ticking down to the first full dress rehearsal in Walden, but the show is nowhere near ready. As the pressure ratchets up, and the fate of the performers and the show hangs in the balance, we get inside the dynamics of the Big Apple family, watching relationships begin to gel, and tracking developing rivalries and romances.