In The Spotlight
YURY NIKULINclownGeneric term for all clowns and augustes. '''Specific:''' In Europe, the elegant, whiteface character who plays the role of the straight man to the Auguste in a clown team., as well as a remarkable and equally beloved screen actor; his performing career covered more than three decades, from 1948 to 1981. Upon his retirement from the ring, he became Director of Moscow's "Old Circus" on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which he had entirely rebuilt (from 1985-1989) into a modern facility by a Finnish company, thus bringing that cherished Moscow institution into the modern age, and restoring its prominence on the Russian and European circus scenes at a critical moment in Russian history.
Yury Vladimirovich Nikulin (Юрий Владимирович Никулин) was born in a theatrical family on December 18, 1921, in Demidov, a small town in the province of Smolensk, in northwest Russia, near the Belarussian border. His father was Moscow-born Vladimir Andreyevich Nikulin (1898-1964); his mother, Lidiya Ivanovna Nikulina (1902-1979), was born Lidiya Germanova in Lievenhof (today's Līvāni) in Latvia, which was then part of the of the Russian Empire; she had moved to Demidov with relatives during the First World War to stay away from the combat zone. There, she met and married Vladimir Andreyevich.
When Yury was born, Vladimir Nikulin had just been discharged from the Red Army and got a job at the Drama Theater in Demidov, where Lidiya also worked as an actress. Then, he organized a traveling propaganda-theater group that promoted the brand-new Soviet regime through "revolutionary humor," and acted in plays which he also directed. In 1925, the Nikulin family moved to Moscow, where Vladimir wrote sketches for circus and variety shows—which were still intensely politicized then. He also organized the theater group at the school his son, Yury, attended. Later, he became a journalist.
On November 18, 1939, after graduating from high schoolA display of equestrian dressage by a rider mounting a horse and leading it into classic moves and steps. (From the French: Haute école), young Yury Nikulin was drafted into the Red Army for his three-year mandatory military service. This would have a long-lasting impact on Yury Nikulin as a man: In June 1941, the USSR declared war on Germany and the Axis powers, and what will be known in Russia as "The Great Patriotic War" started. Yury Nikulin was then serving in the 115th anti-aircraft artillery regiment. During the Soviet-Finnish war (1939-1940), his anti-aircraft battery had guarded the air approaches to Leningrad. (more...)
New Essays and Biographies
- Yury Nikulin, Clown, Actor, Circus Director
- Serge, Circus Chronicler and Illustrator
- Alexandre Palisse, Clown, Circus Owner
- Rico y Alex, Clowns
- Barbette, Trapeze and Tightwire Artist
- Ty Tojo, juggler (2012)
- Sevryukov Troupe, flying actAny aerial act in which an acrobat is propelled in the air from one point to another. (2007)
- Hussain Gulyamov, juggling and hula-hoops (2022)
- Sokolov Troupe, Amadeus, teeterboardA seesaw made of wood, or fiberglass poles tied together, which is used to propel acrobats in the air. act (2014)
- Hassak Troupe, balancing act (2022)
New Oral Histories
- For A Moment You Fly, The First Season of The Big Apple Circus (1977)
- Vladimir Durov Documentary on Russian Television (c.2000)
- Dolly Jacobs Interview at The Ringling (2018)
- Pinito del Oro's Interview on Spanish Television (1970)
- Gia Eradze's Interview on SSU TV (2015)
- Philip Astley & The Horsemen who invented the Circus, by Dominique Jando (2018)
A Message from the Founder
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