Born and raised in Brooklyn, Paul Binder graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an MBA at Columbia University. After working at WGBH-TV in Boston (as a stage manager for Julia Child’s The French Chef) and as a talent coordinator for Merv Griffin, Binder headed west and learned juggling with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he 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.
In 2009, Binder “stepped out of the ring,” and was honored by ABC News as “Person of the Week.” He continues to work with the Big Apple Circus as a senior advisor. He is currently in demand as a guest speaker and has lectured and led seminars at Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Virginia, and Barnard College
Binder received honorary doctorate degrees in fine arts from his alma mater, Dartmouth, and from Pratt Institute and Rhode Island College. He also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Long Island University. In 2001 he was named NYC Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. He is the proud father of Katherine, Max, Adam, and Anais.