By Dominique Jando
Faltyny is a household name in the Czech circus world. The Faltyny family’s real name is Faltynek (plural: Faltynkovi), and they trace their roots to an old circus family from South Moravia. Its story began in the familiar fashion common to many circus families: In the late nineteenth century, in the small village of Kladky, some one-hundred kilometers north of Brno, the son of the miller Faltynek ran away with a troupe of itinerant acrobats for the love of a beautiful wire dancer.
The Faltynkovi and Cirkus Rozkvetslack wireA Tight Wire, or Low Wire, kept slack, and generally used for juggling or balancing tricks. act, with which she captured the heart of the miller’s son: Faltynek left his village and his family, and joined the troupe, married Miss Flaks, and eventually developed his own tight wireA tight, light metallic cable, placed between two platforms not very far from the ground, on which a wire dancer perform dance steps, and acrobatic exercises such as somersaults. (Also: Low Wire) act.
The Faltynkovi had a son, Vojtěch (1904-1988), who became a foot juggler; in time, Vojtěch married another circus performer, Fanny Kockova. They had their own small traveling outfit with which they performed outdoors, touring Moravia and Slovakia. Vojtěch and Fanny had eight children, four boys and four girls. Their second son, Frantisek (November 15, 1931-November 7, 2003), originated the present Faltynek (Faltyny) circus line.
Frantisek’s parents retired from performing and put an end to their travels when their son was a teenager. Thence Frantisek went to school like any other kid of his age, and eventually joined the Army. Yet one day, he visited Cirkus Rozkvet, owned by Jan Novotny and Marie Dvorakova, and he fell in love with their beautiful daughter, Marie Novotna (born May 1st, 1934)—a contortionist and a wire dancer. Young Frantisek left the Army and returned to the circus. At Cirkus Rozkvet, he worked as a clown and put together a comedy unicycle act with Marie.
Frantisek and Marie eventually owned and managed Cirkus Rozkvet (which means "blossom" in Czech), and together they had seven children: Emil (born November 29, 1956 in Znojmo, South Moravia), Marie (born September 15, 1958), Frantisek, Jr. (1961-1996), Vojtěch (born February 8, 1963), Anna (born January 17, 1965), Jindra (born February 29, 1968), and Hana (born January 18, 1970).
The Faltyny Troupehand-to-handAn acrobatic act in which one or more acrobats do hand-balancing in the hands of an under-stander. balancing, etc.—and of course, unicycle.
Around 1980, Emil Faltynek, who was destined to succeed his parents, decided instead to build a unicycle act with his siblings and try his chance at outside engagements, notably abroad. In order to do that, the family moved to Prague and applied with their unicycle act to the Czechoslovakian State Circus Organization. They were accepted, and a new life began for them: Just two weeks later, as the Faltyny Troupe, they were already touring with a company of the Czechoslovakian National Circus in the USSR. It was the beginning of a rich international career.
At about that time, Emil married Svatava Rychterova (b.1962), the daughter of Vaclav (1935-2002) and Anna Rychter (née Laghiova, b.1936), who had been the first performers to present a Globe of Death act with motorbikes in a steel globe in Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Rychter came from the old Rychter circus dynasty. Vaclav and Anna Rychter were already well-established performers, and had presented their act in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary and USSR—a path the Faltynys were soon to follow.
A New Era
After the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, the Faltynys were at last free to work internationally as independent contractors. In 1990, they participated in the 15th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo, where their act, presented with Czech folkloric costumes and music, received the Jury’s Special Prize. From then on, they worked all over Europe. In 1995, Emil’s sister, Anna, her husband, Frantisek Jung, and their brother Jindrich and his wife, Edita Blahnikova, decided to quit the act; Emil replaced them with his children, Emil, Jr. (born March 14, 1982), and Veronika (born January 31, 1986). (Vojtěch had left the act in 1981, after a bad fall from a tall unicycle in Russia, which left him paralyzed.)Könyöt circus dynasty, with whom she had two sons, Daniel (b. September 13, 2011) and Paolo, Jr. (b. September 23, 2014).
In 2014, the Faltynys returned to the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo with their unicycle act, performed by three generations of Faltynys. Little Emil III, who was only five years old, received an award for being the Youngest Artist in the Festival, where he proudly rode his mini-unicycle around the ring. Pauline Ducruet, the daughter of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, presented the award to him. The Faltynys also presented their juggling act, and Emil, Jr. performed his free ladderUnsupported vertical ladder on which acrobats perform balancing and/or juggling tricks. act, for which he holds a Guinness World Record: longest duration juggling five objects while standing on footplates on a free ladderUnsupported vertical ladder on which acrobats perform balancing and/or juggling tricks. (57 seconds). The continuation of the Flatyny line is assured indeed.
The Faltynys are also present in their own country and abroad with their circuses: Marie and her husband, Frantisek Jung, run Circus Francesco Jung, which tours in Russia; Anna and her husband, Alexej Polach, run Cirkus Alex in the Czech Republic; and Hana and her husband, Antonin Ales, run Circus Ales in Slovakia. Jindra Faltynek and his wife, Edita, perform all over Europe with their juggling on unicycle and knife throwing acts. As for Vojtech, he married Zedna, a physiotherapist specialized in spinal injuries.
- Video: The Faltyny Family, unicycle act, in the French TV show Le plus grand cabaret du monde (2004)
- Video: The Faltyny Family, unicycle act, at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo (2014)
- Video: Emil Faltyny, free ladder, at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo (2014)