Damn Everything But the Circus

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Everyone at the St. Louis Symphony was deeply saddened by the news of the loss of Ivor David Balding, co-founder of the magnificent Circus Flora. Circus Flora just began pitching its big top behind Powell Hall, on Monday, as it does each summer. And each summer I announce Circus Flora’s arrival with the e.e. cummings’ line “Damn everything but the circus.” I don’t know if David Balding ever had a mantra, but that one would have been fitting.

David Balding
David Balding

Balding was one of the greatest artists to have worked in St. Louis. His early career is a who’s who of American theater, including associations with legends such as Eva La Gallienne and Joe Papp. Balding produced some landmark productions of New York theater, including The Knack, The Man in the Glass Booth, and Lenny. In the circus world he produced the famed Jimmy Chipperfield’s Circus World in Europe, and he had a hand in the formation of another great one-ring circus troupe, Big Apple Circus. He co-founded Circus Flora in 1985, and St. Louis has been blessed by its artistry ever since.

I cherish to have been in the presence of his kind and generous spirit and seeing the product of that brilliant artistic mind at work in the Circus Flora big top, and in recent years, at Powell Hall. The Symphony performs a new show with Circus Flora in December. David was a warm and comforting presence on the stage. I know we will feel that it is still there.