Equestrienne, Animal Trainer
By Dominique Jando
David Smart (1929-2007) and Olga Elleano-Stey (b. 1932 to a Swiss family of wirewalkers). She is the granddaughter of the famous English showman Billy Smart. Yasmine made her debut in the ring at age 11, at Billy Smart's New World Circus, with a group of twelve Shetland ponies. She was tutored in horse and animal training by John Gindl, who was at the time Billy Smart's Circus's head trainer.
Although an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback. by choice, Yasmine also worked with exotic animals and elephants, animals she presented in other British circuses, such as Blackpool’s Tower Circus and Belle Vue Circus in Manchester, after Billy Smart's Circus folded its tents in 1971. She also presented horses for other circuses, notably for Circus Knie in Switzerland and Circus Krone and Circus Hagenbeck in Germany. Eventually, Yasmine became a celebrated "Ringmistress"—a role she originated at the Billy Smart’s Circus Christmas Spectacular, a BBC Holiday special that aired for several years after the Billy Smart's Circus had ceased touring.
It is in her capacity as Ringmistress that Yasmine participated for the first time in the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 1975. The following year, she presented a group of horses "at liberty"Liberty act", "Horses at liberty": Unmounted horses presented from the center of the ring by an equestrian directing his charges with his voice, body movements, and signals from a ''chambrière'' (French), or long whip." from Circus Krone at a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee at Windsor. She married Dany Cesar (Bradford) in 1978. They presented together a high schoolA display of equestrian dressage by a rider mounting a horse and leading it into classic moves and steps. (From the French: Haute école) act at her father's Super Circus in Battersea Park in London in 1980. (Yasmine and David eventually separated in 1989.)
Award-Winning EquestrienneBig Apple Circus. In 1981, she participated again in the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo—this time as an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback.—and won the prestigious Dame du Cirque award. She returned to the Festival in 1985 to win the coveted Silver Clown award for her liberty"Liberty act", "Horses at liberty": Unmounted horses presented from the center of the ring by an equestrian directing his charges with his voice, body movements, and signals from a ''chambrière'' (French), or long whip. act. She was awarded a second La Dame du Cirque award in 1995.
Yasmine was the first British circus artist to be awarded in Monte Carlo and remains the only artist to have been awarded three times. Among other venues, she has been featured with Circus Jacobi-Althoff and Circus Roncalli in Germany, Liana Orfei's Golden Circus Festival in Italy, and the Big Apple Circus in the U.S., where she spent four seasons, creating a new act each season. Yasmine has also appeared in several horse shows and festivals in Germany and France, as well as on several TV shows in Europe. In 2007, she was a Jury at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo. In 2010, Yamine was the subject of, and starred in, the musical Yasmine, presented in England by Giffords Circus.
Yasmine Smart was inducted into the International Circus Hall Of Fame in Peru, Indiana in 2014.
- Oral History: Yasmine Smart's interview with Dominique Jando (2007)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, elephant act, at Billy Smart's Circus (c.1975)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, liberty act, Billy Smart's Christmas Circus (1978)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, liberty act, at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo (1985)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, liberty act, in the Big Apple Circus production of Picturesque (2004)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, High School Act, in the Big Apple Circus production of Grandma Goes To Hollywood (2005)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, Liberty Act, in the Big Apple Circus production of Step Right Up! (2006)
- Video: Yasmine Smart, Liberty Act, in the Big Apple Circus production of Celebrate (2007)
- Biographies: Billy Smart, David Smart
Yasmine Smart, Yasmine - My Horses and Me (Little Hormead, Aardwark Publishing for the Circus Friends Association, 2011) — ISBN 978-1-872904-45-0