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

In The Spotlight

Nouveau Cirque Cheret.jpg

LE NOUVEAU CIRQUE

Located from 1886 to 1926 on the rue Saint Honoré in Paris, a chic shopping thoroughfare at a stone’s throw of the Place Vendôme, the Nouveau Cirque was the most elegant and innovative circus of the French capital—and, for that matter, of Europe. For many years, it was the High Society’s circus of choice. Its relatively small size gave it warmth and intimacy (it was sometimes referred to as a "bonbonniere"), but in time, the Nouveau Cirque’s limited capacity made it difficult to manage. It began to lose its prominence before the first World War and proved unable to adapt to the post-war era.

The Nouveau Cirque was built for its times—what is remembered today as the Parisian "Belle Époque" ("Beautiful Era"), of which it was one of the jewels. After WWI, Paris entered the Jazz Age. Then, in the early 1920s, the venerable Cirque d’Hiver, completely refurbished, returned to the presentation of circus shows after a rather futile hiatus as a movie-house and theater; the Cirque Medrano began to enjoy one of its more lucrative periods; and the brand-new Empire Music-Hall Cirque opened its doors Avenue de Wagram: The small "bonbonniere" that was the Nouveau Cirque looked suddenly like a remnant of another era. It faced a competition it was ill-equipped to fight. Once a revolutionary and trendsetting house whose rich and often glorious life had lasted forty years, the Nouveau Cirque finally called it quits.

The Nouveau Cirque was created by Joseph Oller (1839-1922), an imaginative entrepreneur and prolific provider of Parisian amusements. He was born Josep Oller i Roca in Terrassa, in Spanish Catalonia, on February 10, 1839; his parents were Francesc Oller, a fabric(See: Tissu) merchant, and his wife, Teresa, née Roca. The family emigrated to France when Josep was two years old, and the Ollers settled in Paris where Josep, now Joseph, was raised. He eventually returned to Spain to study at the University of Bilbao in the Basque Country, and while there, he discovered cockfighting, which was still very popular in the nineteenth century. His passion for this gory game led him to become a bookmaker—his first entrepreneurial endeavor.... (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.

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