Paul Binder Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Paul Binder      

Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Big Apple Circus

Paul Binder is the founder of the Big Apple Circus. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an Master of Business Administration degree at Columbia University. Binder worked at WGBH-TV in Boston (stage-managing for Julia Child’s The French Chef) and as a talent coordinator for Merv Griffin, before heading West and learning juggling with the San Francisco Mime Troupe—where Binder met Michael Christensen.

Together, Binder and Christensen traveled through Europe and earned their living by juggling on street corners. Their act landed them on the legendary stage of the Casino de Paris, on French television and, eventually, in the ring of Annie Fratellini’s Nouveau Cirque de Paris.

Binder returned to New York with a dream—to create an American circus with the same dedication to theatrical excellence and artistic intimacy that he and Christensen had experienced in Europe. He found the people who would share his dream and implement his vision and, in 1977, the Big Apple Circus was born.

Founder, founding artistic director of the Big Apple Circus, and a gifted performer, Binder was recently honored by ABC-TV World News with Charles Gibson as "Person of the Week". In July of 2009, Binder "stepped out of the ring" but continues to work with the Big Apple Circus as a senior advisor. He is currently in demand as a guest speaker, having spoken and led seminars at Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Virginia and Barnard College.

Binder has received Honorary Doctorate degrees in Fine Arts from his alma mater, Dartmouth, Pratt Institute, and Rhode Island College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Long Island University. In 2001, he was given the honor of "NYC Living Landmark," by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. He is the proud father of Katherine, Max, Adam and Anais.

Speech Topics

Doing Good Feels Great: Social Responsibility and Business

For 30 years the Big Apple Circus, Americas original one-ring circus, has been delighting audiences of all ages under its Big Top by presenting the finest in live family entertainment featuring world-class circus artistry. The Big Apple Circus is a not-for-profit performing arts and outreach institution committed to invigorating the communities we serve with the joy and wonder of classical circus. In addition to the 350 annual performances, the Big Apple Circus provides a variety of programs to include sending clowns into hospitals to visit with children as well as creating a circus based on the senses for sight and hearing impaired. Paul Binder will share with audiences how doing well and doing good will work for you. His commitment led ABC News to name Binder Person of the Week in November, 2008.

For Profit, Not-for-Profit: Same or Different?

With more than 350 annual performances and 5,000 donors contributing to the not- for-profit circus's community programs and artistic excellence, the Big Apple Circus demonstrates how to build and grow an organization that does well and does good at the same time. Over the past 30 years the Big Apple Circus has steadily grown: in the number of venues played, the performances presented, in audience attendance and in community programs offered. Understand how Paul Binder built the Big Apple Circus using fund-raising, local and corporate donors and learn how to take that back into your own organization.

The Man on the Back of the Man on the Wire and Other Adventures

With the story-telling flare you would expect from a ringmaster, Paul Binder shares the fantastic, bizarre and amazing tales that come from being a circus performer for more than 30 years. From the story of walking in on the man planning his high-wire walk between the twin towers to tales you will have to take Binders word on to believe, audiences will be engaged and entertained.

The Entrepreneurial Journey...Following Your Passion

Learn how this street juggler transformed his passion to create one of Americas most successful one-ring touring circus delivering more than 350 annual performances. After performing for European audiences, Paul Binder returned to the United States with the dream of creating an American circus with the same dedication to theatrical excellence and artistic intimacy that he had experienced in Europe. He focused on including education and community service to launch and build the Big Apple Circus. Binder will share with audiences how to align what you do with your passion, so you dont see your job as work.

How Managing Jugglers, Acrobats, Trapeze Artists, Animal Trainers and Clowns Applies to Every Business

The circus delivers a magical experience; it does that by playing to all the senses: staging, performers, music and above all the coming together, or execution, of the creative collaboration and passions of all those involved to entertain and delight. Understand how to lead diverse and creative individuals whose jobs require flawless execution day-after-day. Every organization depends on the performance of their people and Paul Binder, founder and ringleader of the Big Apple Circus, shares the lessons he learned building a team of talented professionals. Audiences will leave with an understanding on how to build a high-performing team while managing a creative and diverse group of individuals.


People - Paul Binder - WNYC
Paul Binder, founder of the Big Apple Circus, discusses the uncommon life of circus artists, their animal partners. His memoir Never Quote the Weather to a Sea ...
The Ivy League Vagabond Who Started the Big Apple Circus - WSJ ...
I happened to be there in the august company of Paul Binder, the founder and onetime ringmaster of the Big Apple Circus and the author of a new memoir, ...

Related Speakers View all

More like Paul