Acrobats On Horseback
By Dominique Jando
The Loyal-Suarez troupe of acrobats on horseback was active in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Its equestrian star was Timi Loyal, son of the legendary acrobat on horseback, Giustino Loyal (1909-1999). Timi was supported by his wife Denyse, and by Enrique Suarez and two of his children, Magdalena and Enrique, Jr.
Timi was born in Sarasota, Florida, in 1958—the year his father, Giustino, retired from performing. The large Loyal family, of French ancestry, is one of the world’s oldest circus dynasties: Their activity as performers predates Philip Astley’s creation of the modern circus in 1770. Giustino came to the United States in 1932, with the Loyal Repenskys, the equestrian troupe of his father, Jules Loyal (1879-1956), who had married Giuseppina Travaglia, scion of an old Italian circus family.
In school, Timi participated in many sport activities, until he suffered a broken shoulder. While recuperating, he went to see his father training children at Sailor Circus, the famous high-school amateur circus of Sarasota, of which Giustino was one of the principal teachers. Then and there, Timi realized the importance of his artistic heritage, and decided to carry on the family tradition. Under the guidance of his father, Timi quickly became a remarkable acrobat on horseback.
Enrique Suarez hailed from Mexico, where his family has been in the circus business since the mid-nineteen century. An accomplished bareback rider, he came to the United States in 1955 to join the Loyal-Repenzky Troupe, which was then performing with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Enrique remained in the country, where he performed with his family in every major circus. His son, Enrique, Jr., later became a major equestrian star of his own, and was featured for several seasons with the equestrian hit show, Cavalia.
- Video: The Loyal-Suarez Troupe, equestrians, in the Big Apple Circus production of Grandma Goes West (1989)