Purpose & Vision
Principles & Values
Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc., founded by Keith Nelson and Stephanie Monseu in 1995, prides itself on being an integral part of America’s outstanding folk traditions of circus, sideshow, vaudeville, storytelling, and burlesque. The first Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret took place in 1995 in Brooklyn, New York. Each year since then, Bindlestiff has produced original Cirkus shows, festivals, and other public events. Bindlestiff has presented hundreds of the world’s top artists in the circus and variety fields. Performance seasons in NYC and New York’s Hudson Valley, as well as national touring in the United States, have engaged audiences in the hundreds of thousands, with performances in theaters, spiegeltents, big tops, cruise ships, fairs and festivals, and beyond. In 2017 Bindlestiff was invited to represent the art of circus at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, celebrating the cultural heritage of the American circus on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Bindlestiff provides a wide array of opportunities to emerging and professional variety artists. The Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show is the premiere circus “open mic” night of New York City, presenting acts by over 100 artists every year. Bindlestiff’s First of May Award offers emerging NYC-based circus and variety artists an opportunity to obtain financial support and mentorship from Bindlestiff. Since 2003, Bindlestiff’s Cavalcade of Youth, produced in collaboration with Playful Productions, pairs young artists from diverse backgrounds interested in learning the craft and skills of circus and variety with professional mentors in the field, presenting these emerging artists in twice-yearly public shows in New York City.
Bindlestiff is also committed to providing education and enrichment opportunities. Free after-school and summer camp programs serve young people in the Hudson Valley and New York City by utilizing social circus theory, an international approach to circus arts instruction that uses circus training as a medium for social justice and youth development. Circus skill workshops are offered with touring productions. Bindlestiff continues to develop and expand its educational programs with new partnerships, greater outreach, and continued professional development for its instructors.