Icarists (Risley Act)
By Dominique Jando
Béla Kremo, and his son, Kris. All of them have been important circus and variety stars in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Kris Kremo, who also became a celebrated international star in America as well as in Europe, continued the tradition well into the twenty-first century.
The original Kremo troupe was created around 1880 by Josef Kremo (1854-1917), whose real name was Kremka, and whose family was of Czech origins—at a time when Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This first Kremo troupe was composed of Josef and his two eldest sons, Sylvester and Karl. Josef Kremo had been apprenticed to the Scheffers (whose name's correct spelling was Schäffer, but was spelled Scheffer in the circus and variety business), an Austrian family of talented acrobats who performed the best and most celebrated Risley actAct performed by Icarists, in which one acrobat, lying on his back, juggles another acrobat with his feet. (Named after Richard Risley Carlisle, who developed this type of act.) of the late 19th century.
Josef had married an Austro-Hungarian equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback., Franzisca Allinger (1858-1940). Together they had had thirteen children, twelve of whom eventually participated in the family's Risley actAct performed by Icarists, in which one acrobat, lying on his back, juggles another acrobat with his feet. (Named after Richard Risley Carlisle, who developed this type of act.). At least three of their children, Anton, Franziska, and Viktor, could perform a triple somersault on the feet of their father, the most difficult trickAny specific exercise in a circus act. of the specialty, then as now. Sylvester (1881-1962), Josef's eldest son, and Karl (1882-1958), his younger brother, eventually went on to create their own troupes, and continued the family tradition, each with his own troupe.
The Sylvester Kremo Family troupe consisted of Sylvester and his daughters, Sylvia and Selna. The Karl Kremo Family was a larger troupe, consisting of Karl, his brother Mark (1888-1945), his wife Margrit (1891-1923)—née Hanus in Hungary—and their children, Bellona, Béla, Bianca, and Bert, along with occasional partners. Both troupes brilliantly continued the Kremo tradition, performing in Europe's leading circuses and variety theaters until the 1930s. The Karl Kremo Family was the most famous of the two, and of course, was survived by one of Karl's sons, Béla Kremo, who maintained the name alive as a world-famous juggler.