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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
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[[File:Gilbert_Houcke_and_Tiger.png|right|400px]]
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===GILBERT HOUCKE===
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Considered by many as the greatest and most innovative tiger trainer of all times, Gilbert Houcke (1918-1984) was, from the mid-1940s up to 1971, an indisputable European circus star whose name alone could sell tickets to any circus. His abundant charisma, his elegance, his gentle methods of training, the genuine love he showed to his animals, and the unforgettable beauty and originality of his presentations, which were much ahead of their time, have made his one of the great names of the twentieth century’s European circus.
  
===ELENA SERAFIMOVICH===
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Gilbert Houcke was born May 28, 1918 in Grenoble, France, to old circus aristocracy. His father was the brilliant and dapper equestrian and circus director Jean Houcke (1878-1973), whose old-world elegance (his white silk scarf, monocle and bowler hat—or, in the summer, a boater) was fondly remembered by the old circus folks and aficionados who were lucky to have known him. Jean Houcke was the grandson of Jean Léonard Houcke, a French equestrian who had settled in Sweden, where he originated his circus dynasty in the 19th century.
[[File:Serafimovich_Portrait.jpg|right|400px]]
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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.
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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 mounter in the famous perch-pole 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.  
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Gilbert’s mother, born Marcelle Rancy (1894-1963), was the daughter of Alphonse Rancy (1861-1933) and granddaughter of Théodore Rancy (1818-1892). Théodore was the founder of one of France’s oldest and most respected circus dynasties, allied to practically all of Europe’s major circus families. Interestingly, Marcelle’s own mother was born Jeanne Bidel and was the daughter of the famous cat trainer and menagerie owner François Bidel (1839-1909). Thus, although the Houckes and Rancys were mostly known as equestrians, there were traces of a cat trainer in Gilbert’s DNA.  
  
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 hoop, or cerceau—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.
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Gilbert Houcke was the third of Jean and Marcelle Houcke’s five children: Huguette (1915-1982), Maurice (1917-2002), Gilbert, Sacha (1923-1994) and Nadia (1925-2011). He was born during an engagement of his parents in his grandfather’s circus, the Cirque Alphonse Rancy, which was then showing in Grenoble, an important city southeast of Lyon at the foot of the French Alps. Like his talented brothers and sisters, Gilbert was trained at an early age in all circus basics, from tumbling and acrobatics to the family tradition, equestrianism in all its multiple facets.... ([[Gilbert Houcke|more...]])
 
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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.... ([[Elena Serafimovich|more...]])
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==New Biographies==
 
==New Biographies==
  
* [[Alisher Aliyev]], acrobat, equestrian, aerialist
+
* [[The Steben Sisters]], Aerialists
 +
* [[Gilbert Houcke]], Equestrian, Animal Trainer
 +
* [[Alisher Aliyev]], Acrobat, Equestrian, Aerialist
 
* [[Gia Eradze]], Circus Director, Animal Trainer
 
* [[Gia Eradze]], Circus Director, Animal Trainer
 
* [[Rob Torres]], Clown
 
* [[Rob Torres]], Clown
* [[Tianjin Acrobatic Troupe]], History
 
* [[Nino Frediani]], Juggler
 
  
 
==New Videos==
 
==New Videos==
  
* [[Gipsy_Bouglione_Video_(1966)|Gipsy Bouglione]], tight and slack wire (1966)
+
* [[Triplés_Video_(2004)|Les Triplés]], Comedy Flying Act (2004)
* [[Rudi-Llata_Video_(1954)|Los Rudi-Llata]], Clowns (1954)
+
* [[Leontenko_Video_(1953)|Gitana Leontenko]], Ballerina On Horseback (1953)
* [[Vasilenko_Paris_Video_(2004)|Anastasia Vasilenko]], Aerial Globe (2004)
+
* [[Zvyagin_Video_(1953)|Zvyagin Troupe]] Flying Trampoline Act (1953)
* [[Nikulin_Bureaucrat_Video_(c.1968)|Yury Nikulin & Mikhail Shuydin]], Clown Entrée (c.1968)
+
* [[Wallendas_Video_(2003)|The Wallendas]], High Wire (2003)
* [[Nikulin_Horses_Video_(1967)|Yury Nikulin & Mikhail Shuydin]], Clowns (1967)
+
* [[Shanghai_Barre_Video_(2018)|The Sganghai Acrobatic Troupe]], Russian Barre (2018)
  
 
==New Oral Histories==
 
==New Oral Histories==
  
 +
* [[Durov_Documentary_Video_(c.2000)|Vladimir Durov Documentary]] on Russian Television (c.2000)
 +
* [[Dolly_Jacobs_Interview_Video_(2018)|Dolly Jacobs Interview]] at The Ringling (2018)
 
* [[Pinito_del_Oro_RTE_Video_(1970)|Pinito del Oro's Interview]] on Spanish Television (1970)
 
* [[Pinito_del_Oro_RTE_Video_(1970)|Pinito del Oro's Interview]] on Spanish Television (1970)
 
* [[Eradze_Video_(2015)|Gia Eradze]]'s Interview on SSU TV (2015)
 
* [[Eradze_Video_(2015)|Gia Eradze]]'s Interview on SSU TV (2015)
 
* [[Rosa_Bouglione_Video_(2012)|Rosa Bouglione]]'s interview on Franch Television (2012)
 
* [[Rosa_Bouglione_Video_(2012)|Rosa Bouglione]]'s interview on Franch Television (2012)
* [[Circo_Price_Video_(2017)|A Short History of Madrid's Old Circo Price]], Documentary (1970)
 
* [[Anastasia_Dementieva_Video_(2017)|Anastasia Dementieva-Kornilova]] – Vadim Vernik Interview (2017)
 
  
 
==Circopedia Books==
 
==Circopedia Books==

Revision as of 21:21, 22 August 2019

Welcome! ✫ Bienvenue! ✫ Willkommen! ✫ Добро Пожаловать!
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Circopedia was originally created with the support of the Big Apple Circus
and inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

In The Spotlight

Gilbert Houcke and Tiger.png

GILBERT HOUCKE

Considered by many as the greatest and most innovative tiger trainer of all times, Gilbert Houcke (1918-1984) was, from the mid-1940s up to 1971, an indisputable European circus star whose name alone could sell tickets to any circus. His abundant charisma, his elegance, his gentle methods of training, the genuine love he showed to his animals, and the unforgettable beauty and originality of his presentations, which were much ahead of their time, have made his one of the great names of the twentieth century’s European circus.

Gilbert Houcke was born May 28, 1918 in Grenoble, France, to old circus aristocracy. His father was the brilliant and dapper equestrian and circus director Jean Houcke (1878-1973), whose old-world elegance (his white silk scarf, monocle and bowler hat—or, in the summer, a boater) was fondly remembered by the old circus folks and aficionados who were lucky to have known him. Jean Houcke was the grandson of Jean Léonard Houcke, a French equestrian who had settled in Sweden, where he originated his circus dynasty in the 19th century.

Gilbert’s mother, born Marcelle Rancy (1894-1963), was the daughter of Alphonse Rancy (1861-1933) and granddaughter of Théodore Rancy (1818-1892). Théodore was the founder of one of France’s oldest and most respected circus dynasties, allied to practically all of Europe’s major circus families. Interestingly, Marcelle’s own mother was born Jeanne Bidel and was the daughter of the famous cat trainer(English/American) An trainer or presenter of wild cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, etc. and menagerie owner François Bidel (1839-1909). Thus, although the Houckes and Rancys were mostly known as equestrians, there were traces of a cat trainer(English/American) An trainer or presenter of wild cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, etc. in Gilbert’s DNA.

Gilbert Houcke was the third of Jean and Marcelle Houcke’s five children: Huguette (1915-1982), Maurice (1917-2002), Gilbert, Sacha (1923-1994) and Nadia (1925-2011). He was born during an engagement of his parents in his grandfather’s circus, the Cirque Alphonse Rancy, which was then showing in Grenoble, an important city southeast of Lyon at the foot of the French Alps. Like his talented brothers and sisters, Gilbert was trained at an early age in all circus basics, from tumbling and acrobatics to the family tradition, equestrianism in all its multiple facets.... (more...)

New Biographies

New Videos

New Oral Histories

Circopedia Books

A Message from the Editor

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