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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.

In The Spotlight


Struppi Hanneford (Tajana) Head Shot.jpg
Struppi Hanneford (1931-2014) was a major star aerialistAny acrobat working above the ring on an aerial equipment such as trapeze, Roman Rings, Spanish web, etc. before becoming a high-wire dancer, a wild animal trainer, and eventually, one of the United States’ foremost circus producers along with her husband, Tommy Hanneford (1927-2005). Her circus career, both as an artist and a producer, spanned the entire second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first.

She was born Gertrude Zimmerman on September 26, 1931 in Speyer, a small town in Rhineland-Palatinate, near Mannheim in Germany. Her family had no connection with the circus or the performing arts: Her father was a baker, and her mother a homemaker. Yet at a very young age, Gertrude showed a keen interest for gymnastics and all things physical, which was strongly encouraged by her parents—in a country where, at the time, physical education was kept in very high regard.

As a little child, Gertrude used to hang from a bar that her father held with his hands; she enjoyed it, and created little routines of her own. When she was seven, her mother heard of a former trapeze artist whose husband was in the military, and who gave trapeze lessons to augment the family income. Thus Gertrude (Trude) Johann entered the life of Gertrude Zimmerman and became her trapeze teacher.... (more...)

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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

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