Paul Binder is the founder of the Big Apple Circus. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an M.B.A. 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, Paul Binder was recently honored by ABC-TV World News with Charles Gibson as "Person of the Week". In July of 2009 Mr. 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.

Paul 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.


  • Honorary Doctorate Degrees in Fine Arts from:
    Dartmouth College
    Pratt Institute
    Rhode Island College

  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters:
    Long Island University

  • Judge at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, often since 1980
  • Jury of the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in 1994 and 2005
  • State Dinner at the Lotos Club New York - Inducted as an Honorary Lifetime Member, 1997
  • Designated a "New York Living Landmark" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, 1998
  • ABC News "Person of the Week", October 24, 2008 - watch the VIDEO
  • Inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Indiana, 2009
  • Circus Fans Association of America renamed its Felix Adler Tent #12, the "Felix Adler-Paul Binder Tent #12", 2010

PDF version of Paul's CV Click to Circopedia for a complete biography >>>