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Welcome to Circopedia,
the free encyclopedia of the international circus.
A project of the Big Apple Circus,
inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

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In The Spotlight


Sarrasani Big Top.jpg
The legendary Circus Sarrasani was created in Germany in 1901 by a visionary clown and animal trainer, Hans Stosch (1873-1934). Sarrasani remains one of the most celebrated circus names in both Europe and South America. The title was alive throughout the entire twentieth century, under a succession of owners of more or less legitimate lineage. In circus lore, Sarrasani is still a fabled name that evokes a history of epic proportions with sociopolitical undertones, dominated (and occasionally brought close to bankruptcy) by the larger-than-life personality and extravagant vision of its famous founder, Hans Stosch-Sarrasani.

Hans Stosch's vision, which came to full fruition in the late 1920's during the Republic of Weimar, shaped his circus as a paradigm of modernity and exoticism, which went far beyond the traditional approach of the major traveling circus families of the period. Stosch had a matchless ability to mix together industry, stagecraft, propaganda, literature, foreign politics, a specific style of circus management and circus aesthetics—as well as innovative techniques that stand today as milestones in the history of modern circus. His achievements influenced rivals such as Carl Krone, colleagues and admirers such as Jérôme Medrano and John Ringling North, and even, four generations later, Bernhard Paul.... (more...)

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A Message from the Editor

CIRCOPEDIA is a constantly evolving and expanding encyclopedia of the international circus. New videos, biographies, essays, and documents are added to the site on a weekly—and sometimes daily—basis. So 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

Welcome to Circopedia

The International On-Line Circus Archive