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Circopedia was originally created with the support of the Big Apple Circus,
and has been inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

In The Spotlight

THE CIRCUSES OF MOSCOW

Circus Salamonsky in Moscow.jpg

Although the name Moscow Circus is familiar to the public all over the world, there has never been one specific “Moscow Circus” whose troupe toured internationally. The name was a generic term for the circus shows from the USSR traveling abroad during the Soviet Era. It has, over time, become synonymous with “Russian circus.” Yet, there are today (2017) two resident circuses in Moscow, Circus Nikulin on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, and the Bolshoi Circus (bolshoi means big, in Russian) on Vernadsky Avenue—and there have been indeed several others before them.

The first circus built in Russia was established by the French equestrian Jacques Tourniaire, who settled in 1827 in what was then the Russian capital, St. Petersburg. The building, designed by the architect Smaragd Shustov and named Cirque Olympique, was located near the Fontanka canal, practically where St. Petersburg’s Circus Ciniselli stands today. Tourniaire’s circus had only a short existence: it was bought back by the government of St. Petersburg in 1828 to be transformed into a theater. Still, the event didn’t fail to catch the attention of the Muscovites, who always took exception to the influence of Peter The Great’s Baltic capital.

The previous year, Tourniaire had exhibited his equestrian prowess in Moscow, in the manège of the Pashkov mansion (today the Russian State Library), on Mokhovaya Street. Another famous trickAny specific exercise in a circus act. rider, Jacob Bates, had long preceded him in the former Russian capital, where he performed in 1864, and since then, Moscow had welcomed several equestrian companies—among which that of Pierre Mayheu, the famous Spanish rider, in 1790—but contrary to most European major cities, the great Russian metropolis didn’t have a permanent circus of its own.... (more...)

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CIRCOPEDIA is a constantly evolving and expanding archive of the international circus. New videos, biographies, essays, and documents are added to the site on a weekly—and sometimes daily—basis. Keep visiting us: even if today you don't find what you're looking for, it may well be here tomorrow! And if you are a serious circus scholar and spot a factual or historical inaccuracy, do not hesitate to contact us: we will definitely consider your remarks and suggestions.

Dominique Jando
Founder and Curator

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The International On-Line Circus Archive