By Dominique Jando
Kirilas Vorona and his partners—Maxim Guezov, Viktor Morozov, and Mikhail Skamorokhov—were all Russian-born and held Russian Masters in Sports-Gymnastics degrees. Each had distinguished himself in international gymnastics competitions.
In 1996, they met at Moscow's Circus Nikulin (the "Old Circus" on Tsvetnoi Boulevard) to create an original flying act under the guidance of Valentin Gneushev, the celebrated act director. In a matter of months, the Jokers were born. They were an instant sensation.
The Jokers worked with "French" (or "long") distances, more spectacular (and more difficult) than the relatively short distances commonly used by North and South American flyers. Their classic flying-trapeze act displayed remarkable style and skill. It included a front somersault under the bar (Maxim Guezov) and a triple somersault (Mikhail Skamorokhov). It was choreographed in minute detail, down to the pauses on the platform. Unlike the balletic classicism usually seen in flying acts, the Jokers' act was—as their name implies—humorous and light-hearted.
They made their debut at the Circus of Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, in July 1996. They were subsequently featured at Circus Nikulin in Moscow, then in Europe at Munich's Circus Krone. They came to the United States in 1999, making their American debut in the Big Apple Circus production of Bello & Friends.
The Jokers were later featured at Circus Circus in Reno, Nevada, before returning to the Big Apple Circus in 2000-01, after which they disbanded. Kirilas Vorona remained in the United States and became a circus teacher.