Deep Roots Ensuring Tradition for Future Generations
Ivor David Balding began his career as stage manager for actress Eva La Gallienne. After working for Joe Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival, he founded the New Theatre in New York. During his tenure there he produced 21 plays, including The Knack, The Ginger Man, Scuba Duba, Steambath, The Man in the Glass Booth, and Lenny. His productions were nominated for two Tony Awards and won five Obie Awards.
While working for CBS Sports in Europe, Balding conceived and co-produced the Circus World Championships. Held in London, this Circus Olympics was broadcast worldwide on the BBC, followed by network specials for both CBS and NBC. Balding then managed Jimmy Chipperfield’s Circus World, one of the continent’s most famous circuses. Returning to the United States, Balding worked as a producer for the Big Apple Circus. Balding was the circus consultant to Paramount Pictures for the feature film Big Top Pee Wee, and artistic consultant for the Los Angeles Circus Festival in 1990. He also collaborated with director/choreographer Martha Clarke on Endangered Species, presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.
In 1991 and 1992, Balding served as the artistic director for First Night® – St. Louis, St. Louis’ family arts festival celebrating New Year’s Eve. In 1985, he co-founded Circus Flora with Sheila and Sam Jewell and Alexandre Sacha Pavlata, and became the producer/artistic director of this highly acclaimed traditional, one-ring circus. More than 25 different productions of Circus Flora have toured the U.S. at venues including the Glimmerglass Opera House; six years at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina; Lincoln Center’s Ta’ziyeh; and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where Circus Flora was the first to erect a big top tent. In January 2008, Balding received the Excellence in the Arts award from the Arts & Education Council of St. Louis for his lifetime dedication to the arts. PNC Bank Voices of Achievement and KMOX recognized David’s contribution to St. Louis in autumn of 2011. Mr. Balding passed away on May 9, 2014. Learn more about Balding’s legacy in this St. Louis Public Radio article by Robert Duffy and read the New York Times article describing his remarkable life.
Flora, for which the Circus is named, is an orphaned elephant that David Balding rescued when her mother was killed by ivory poachers in Africa. For 15 years, Flora was a beloved star of the Circus that bears her name. In 2000, Flora retired from stage life and currently resides in the elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. You can learn more about Flora’s journey to her current home in the documentary One Lucky Elephant or by visiting the website of Flora’s Elephant Sanctuary by clicking here.