By Dominique Jando
One of the most spectacular Russian Barre acts of the last decade of the twentieth century, the Kuznetsov Troupe’s act was unfortunately short-lived. It was dissolved in 1997, after just a few years of existence, and not long after winning a Gold Medal at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris.
Born in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) on March 3, 1962, its leader, Sergei Nikolayevich Kuznetsov, started training and performing in an Amateur Circus troupe (the Soviet equivalent of a Youth Circus, albeit at a much higher level) when he was nine years old. As a logic result, in 1976, he applied for, and was accepted in, the State College for Circus and Variety Arts—the famous Moscow Circus School.
He made his circus debut in 1980 as an acrobat, and the following year, joined the legendary Russian Barre act of Nikolai Zemskov, with which he toured in the USSR, as well as in India and Asia with units of the Moscow Circus. In 1991, Kuznetsov left the Zemskov Troupe for Moscow’s Bolshoi Circus, where he started working on a Russian Barre act of his own.
His new partners were Alexandre Nevidonski, the former Kazakhstan’s 1985 gymnastics champion, and Alexandre Fedosov and Konstantin Gvodetsky, both former gymnasts with a Master Degree in Sport-Gymnastics. The act premiered at the Bolshoi Circus, and began touring internationally with units of the Moscow Circus, with notably a long run at Circus Williams-Althoff in Germany.
During that engagement, in 1976, the Kuznetsov Troupe was invited to participate in the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, where they were a sensation and won the Gold Medal. This was followed by an engagement with the Big Apple Circus in the United States the following year, for its twentieth anniversary show. Unfortunately, the troupe didn’t even finish the season: It fell apart after a couple of months in New York City.
Konstantin Gvodetsky is the only artist to have won two gold medals in the same specialty at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain: He won the second one in 2005 with the Gvodetskaya Troupe. As for Alexandre Nevidonski, he remained for several years with the Big Apple Circus, as an equestrian and aerialistAny acrobat working above the ring on an aerial equipment such as trapeze, Roman Rings, Spanish web, etc.. He eventually married Katherine Schumann Binder, Paul Binder’s daughter, and has become a member of the resident performing company of Circus Flora, in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Video:The Kuznetsov Troupe, Russian Barre in the Big Apple Circus production of Twenty Years! (1997)