The Dobrich Family
Acrobats, Circus Owners and Directors
By Dominique Jando
Dobrich is the most famous circus name in Bulgaria, even though the founders of this dynasty only joined the circus world at the turn of the twentieth century. The dynasty's main founder, Lazar Dobrich, became a household name in Bulgaria, where he managed a resident circus in Sofia before becoming, under the Communist regime after WWII, the Director of the Bulgarian State Circus organization. He was also a writer and magazine editor, and he wrote two books on the circus that were published soon after his death.
Lazar Ivanov Dobrich was born June 23, 1881, in the village of Ravno Pole, near Sofia, in a family that was not connected with the circus. At age sixteen, he received a scholarship to study in a French university. Lazar, however, was a gymnastics enthusiast (as many young men were then, before gymnastics became a competitive sport), and he left his studies and "ran away and joined the circus", as the saying goes—in that case, the celebrated Dimitrescu Troupe, from Rumania, one of the greatest aerial horizontal-bar acts of the era. Lazar made his circus debut on October 1, 1897, at the Cirque Royal in Brussels, then under the management of the Rumanian director Cesar Sidoli.
Dobrich worked intermittently with the Dimitrescu Troupe until 1901, and then went on to work as an independent performer. He eventually made a name for himself in 1905, at Circus Schumann in Berlin, with a daredevil act called The Trapeze of Death, which he performed on an apparatus of his design. From then on, he pursued a brilliant international career as an acrobat and aerialistAny acrobat working above the ring on an aerial equipment such as trapeze, Roman Rings, Spanish web, etc. in Europe and abroad, appearing in such major circuses as Barnum & Bailey, Renz, Pierantoni, and Ciniselli, among many others.
The Coliseum And The Royal Dobrich Circus
In 1919, with his brother Aleksandr (Alexandre), who, like Lazar, had embarked on a circus career as a wrestler (a popular attraction(Russian) A circus act that can occupy up to the entire second half of a circus performance. in the circuses of the turn of the twentieth century), he built a resident circus in Sofia, the Coliseum, which they managed until 1926. At the same time, Lazar edited the magazine Circus Voice. Thus the Dobriches became part of Sofia's cultural fabric(See: Tissu), and a well-respected name in the European circus world. In 1933, the Dobrich brothers created the itinerant Royal Dobrich Circus, in association with A. Dimitrov and K. Mikhailov.
After the taking-over of Bulgaria by the Communist Party in 1946, the Royal Dobrich Circus was nationalized and became Circus Rodina (National Circus) in 1948. Lazar kept the management of the circus, and eventually became the Director of the Bulgarian State Circus—a position he held from 1956 through 1961. As such, Lazar Dobrich also became a prominent circus arts teacher, creating or overseeing the creation of some of the most famous act of the Bulgarian circus during the Communist era. He passed away in February 1970, at age eighty-nine. In 2006, the Bulgarian Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp bearing his effigy.
After WWII, the children of Alexandre Dobrich eventually settled in the United States: Vera, known as Lola Dobritch (1922-2008), already a celebrated tight wireA tight, light metallic cable, placed between two platforms not very far from the ground, on which a wire dancer perform dance steps, and acrobatic exercises such as somersaults. (Also: Low Wire) dancer on her own right in Europe; and Alexandre, Jr., who became a major American circus impresario and director known as Al Dobritch (d. 1971).
- Lazar Dobrich, Смъртният скок ["Mortal Leap" or "Somersault"] (Sofia, Медицина и физкултура [Medicine & Physical Education], 1971)
- Lazar Dobrich, С цирка по света ["Around the World with the Circus"] (Sofia, Медицина и физкултура [Medicine & Physical Education], 1973)
- Biography: Lola Dobritch