Elena Serafimovich

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Aerial Hoop

By Dominique Jando


Elena Serafimovich]]Elena Serafimovich was born in Minsk, Belarus (then in the USSR) on February 18, 1972 in a family that was not connected with the circus: Both her parents worked for import-export companies. As a child, the mixture of dance and acrobatics that rhythmic gymnastics offers attracted her, and she started training at age six. She participated in many national competitions, and eventually obtained a Master degree in Rhythmic-Gymnastics.

But Elena wanted to see the world, to go out of the confined atmosphere of the Soviet Union; so she did what many former gymnasts there did: she enrolled in Kiev’s State Institute of Variety and Circus Arts in Ukraine (still part of the Soviet Union at the time). The year was 1987. In 1989, she was hired as a top mounterIn an acrobatic or balancing act, the performer who holds the top position (on a human column, for instance). in the famous perch-poleLong perch held vertically on a performer's shoulder or forehead, on the top of which an acrobat executes various balancing figures. balancing act of Aleksei Sarach—although she was still technically a student of the school. She graduated as a "generalist" (a performer without a specific act) in 1991.

Elena worked with Sarach in the Soviet Union and on foreign tours of the Moscow Circus for eight years. Meanwhile, she had a desire to create an act of her own, and in 1993, she began to train on the aerial hoopA heavy metallic hoop used as a variance of trapeze, usually with contortion moves. (Also called Cerceau.), or cerceau(French) See Aerial Hoop.—an apparatus that was ideal to showcase her amazing grace and flexibility. While doing so, she caught the attention of Tatiana Assovskaya, then director of SoyuzGosTsirk (later, RosGosTsirk), the Russian state central circus organization.

An Award-Winning Act

Elena Serafimovich (c.2007)
With Assovskaya’s help, Elena further developed her act during a long engagement of the Moscow Circus with Circus Williams-Althoff in Germany, where she eventually premiered it in 1995. Her beautifully choreographed aerial presentation, combined with Elena’s natural grace and elegance, was an immediate sensation.

That same year, Assovskaya got Elena to perform in two major circus festivals, Circus Prinsessan in Stockholm, Sweden (and all-woman competition), and the prestigious Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, France. She won a Bronze Medal in each competition, and her international career was immediately launched.

From then on, Elena Serafimovich worked regularly in prestigious nightclubs and varieté(German, from the French: ''variété'') A German variety show whose acts are mostly circus acts, performed in a cabaret atmosphere. Very popular in Germany before WWII, Varieté shows have experienced a renaissance since the 1980s. theaters all over Europe, including the Sporting Club of Monte-Carlo, the TigerPalast in Frankfurt, Germany, and the legendary Friedrichstadt Palatz in Berlin. In January 1997, she returned to Paris and the Cirque d’Hiver to participate in the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain’s 20th anniversary gala celebration, among an extraordinary stellar cast of former laureates.

She went to the United States that same year to be featured in the Big Apple Circus’s own 20th anniversary production, aptly named Twenty Years!. Although she continued to appear in many of Germany’s top varieté(German, from the French: ''variété'') A German variety show whose acts are mostly circus acts, performed in a cabaret atmosphere. Very popular in Germany before WWII, Varieté shows have experienced a renaissance since the 1980s. theaters, Elena began to work more frequently in the U.S., first at the Big E in Massachusetts, in 1999, then, from 2003 on, in various productions of Teatro ZinZanni—the very successful Seattle-based varieté(German, from the French: ''variété'') A German variety show whose acts are mostly circus acts, performed in a cabaret atmosphere. Very popular in Germany before WWII, Varieté shows have experienced a renaissance since the 1980s. dinner-show, with spiegeltent theaters in Seattle and San Francisco. She also appeared with Britney Spears in the 2001 MTV Music Awards show on television.

Elena Serafimovich eventually retired from performing her physically demanding aerial hoopA heavy metallic hoop used as a variance of trapeze, usually with contortion moves. (Also called Cerceau.) act in 2007; her last performance was at the Palazzo Varieté of Essen, Germany on January 19, 2008. By then, she had settled in the United States. She resides now in Las Vegas, where she has appeared in the Cirque du Soleil production of Believe, with Criss Angel, at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Her now legendary aerial hoopA heavy metallic hoop used as a variance of trapeze, usually with contortion moves. (Also called Cerceau.) act has been immortalized by the sculptor Richard MacDonald.

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