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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
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[[File:Luisita_Leers_trap.jpg|right|350px]]
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===LUISITA LEERS===
  
===MOIRA ORFEI===
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Luisita Leers (1909-1997) was born Martha Luise Krökel in Wiesbaden, in the western state of Hesse in Germany, on October 14, 1909. Her mother, Gertrude, was a member of the Reichenbach circus family. A physically powerful woman, Gertrude acquired fame with an elegant and spectacular acrobatic act, Les Leandros, in which she was the under-stander—an unusual occurrence for a woman. Luisita never knew her biological father, who left Gertrude when Luisita was only two years old. Her mother eventually remarried with Guido Krökel, an aerial contortionist who worked with the Leers-Arvello Troupe; their act, which combined Roman Rings and acrobatic pyramids, was mostly an aerial display of strength.
  
Moira Orfei (born Miranda Orfei, 1931-2015) was an Italian pop-culture icon. A member of Italy's most famous circus family, she could compete in fame with any Italian music or movie legend. She was undoubtedly the only circus owner in the world who could get away (for forty years, no less!) with advertising her circus using posters that prominently displayed only her head shot and her first name. Much of her reputation was due to her long movie career, which coincided with the golden age of Italian cinema. But it was also due to the quality of her circus.
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Guido took care of Luisita's artistic education without much tenderness, and transformed her into an exceptionally strong female athlete, who was able to hold her own in the Leers-Arvellos's various exhibitions of strength. Luisita made her professional debut on March 8, 1920 in Cologne (Köln), working with the troupe on the Roman rings. She was eleven years old! Soon, she could perform a one-arm "plange" (or planche) and an "iron cross," which were then supposed to belong exclusively to a male repertoire, and she even held with one arm her hanging stepfather. Meanwhile, she was building a trapeze act of her own, in which she could display her unusual strength. She began her solo trapeze career in 1926.
  
The daughter of Riccardo Orfei and Violetta Arata, she was born in the family's living trailer on December 21, 1931 in Codriopo, Italy. As a child, Moira was trained in all the basic circus disciplines. In 1960—without ever leaving the circus—she began a movie career. Ultimately, she appeared in nearly forty films, including popular Italian comedies and a host of internationally successful Italian productions based on mythological themes, such as the ''Hercules'', ''Ursus'', and ''Samson'' series.
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Her remarkable work on the trapeze quickly drew attention, and she was featured in some of the world's most prestigious circuses and variety theaters, from the legendary Wintergarten and Scala in Berlin to the Roxy, New York's premier movie palace, and a four-year contract with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1928 through 1933. There, she occupied a center-ring position in a program that was particularly rich in stellar aerialists: It included Winnie Colleano on the swinging trapeze, the Codonas and the Siegrist-Silbons on the flying trapeze, and the undisputed star of the show, Lillian Leitzel, on the Roman rings.... ([[Luisita Leers|more...]])
 
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In 1961, she married the acrobat Walter Nones (1934-2016), the son of Giuseppe Nones and Adele Medini. A year later, they formed a company with the Austrian Swoboda sisters (of the Medrano-Swoboda circus) and began a long career as circus owners and directors. A year after that, the Orfeis and the Swobodas parted ways. Moira and Walter went on to create their own Circo Moira Orfei, which quickly drew attention, both for the elegance of its productions and its infrastructures and, above all, for the high quality of its acts.
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Moira and Walter launched the monumental ''Circo sul Ghiaccio'' ("Circus on Ice") in 1969. It was easily the most sophisticated circus-on-ice show ever undertaken; it had both a circus ring and a skating rink, and the show included elaborate set changes, a huge variety of costumes, and an international cast of circus and variety megastars. During this period, Moira's elephant presentations made her a legend, while Walter became an excellent lion and tiger trainer.... ([[Moira Orfei|more...]])
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==New Essays and Biographies==
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
  
 +
* [[Alexis Gruss, Jr.]], Equestrian, Circus Owner
 +
* [[Alona Zhuravel]], Hand-Balancer
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* [[George Carl]], Clown
 
* [[Cedric Walker]], Circus Owner
 
* [[Cedric Walker]], Circus Owner
 
* [[The Aragón Family]], Clown Dynasty
 
* [[The Aragón Family]], Clown Dynasty
* [[Totti Alexis]], Clown
 
* [[Ross Mollison]], Circus Producer
 
* [[Don Saunders]], Clown
 
  
 
==New Videos==
 
==New Videos==
  
* [[Monte_Carlo_Video_(2016)| International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo]], 40th Anniversary Gala (excerpts) (2016)
+
* [[Hermanos_Reyes_Video_(2022)|Los Hermanos Reyes]], juggling/perc-pole balancing (2022)
* [[Parmar_Video_(2024)|Hunish Parmar]], strap act (2024)
+
* [[Dmitrieva_Video_(2022)|Ekaterina Dmitrieva]], equestrian & aerial act (2022)
* [[Tabares_Video_(2023)|The Flying Tabares]], flying trapeze (2023)
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* [[Duo_Dadiva_Video_(2020)|Duo Dádiva]], rola-bola (2020)
* [[Two_On_The_Rope_Video_(2024)|Two On The Rope]], corde lisse (2024)
+
* [[Duo_Soul_Video_(2024)|Duo Soul]], aerial hoop (2024)
* [[Caballeros_Video_(2023)|The Flying Caballeros]], flying trapeze (2023)
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* [[Davio_Togni_Video_(c.1995)|Davio Togni]], hippo, rhino and leopard act (c.1995)
  
 
==New Oral Histories==
 
==New Oral Histories==

Revision as of 00:57, 13 June 2024


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Circopedia was originally inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

In The Spotlight

Luisita Leers trap.jpg

LUISITA LEERS

Luisita Leers (1909-1997) was born Martha Luise Krökel in Wiesbaden, in the western state of Hesse in Germany, on October 14, 1909. Her mother, Gertrude, was a member of the Reichenbach circus family. A physically powerful woman, Gertrude acquired fame with an elegant and spectacular acrobatic act, Les Leandros, in which she was the under-standerIn an acrobatic act, the person who is at the base, supporting other acrobats (for example, the base of a human pyramid). Also known as the "bottom Man" (or "Bottom Woman").—an unusual occurrence for a woman. Luisita never knew her biological father, who left Gertrude when Luisita was only two years old. Her mother eventually remarried with Guido Krökel, an aerial contortionist who worked with the Leers-Arvello Troupe; their act, which combined Roman Rings and acrobatic pyramids, was mostly an aerial display of strength.

Guido took care of Luisita's artistic education without much tenderness, and transformed her into an exceptionally strong female athlete, who was able to hold her own in the Leers-Arvellos's various exhibitions of strength. Luisita made her professional debut on March 8, 1920 in Cologne (Köln), working with the troupe on the Roman ringsA pair of small wooden or metallic rings hanging from ropes or straps, used by circus aerialists as well as competition gymnasts.. She was eleven years old! Soon, she could perform a one-arm "plange(American, From the French, ''planche'') Acrobatic figure in which one's body is held in a straight horizontal position." (or planche(French) Acrobatic figure in which one's body is held in a straight horizontal position.) and an "iron cross," which were then supposed to belong exclusively to a male repertoire, and she even held with one arm her hanging stepfather. Meanwhile, she was building a trapeze act of her own, in which she could display her unusual strength. She began her solo trapeze career in 1926.

Her remarkable work on the trapeze quickly drew attention, and she was featured in some of the world's most prestigious circuses and variety theaters, from the legendary Wintergarten and Scala in Berlin to the Roxy, New York's premier movie palace, and a four-year contract with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1928 through 1933. There, she occupied a center-ring position in a program that was particularly rich in stellar aerialists: It included Winnie Colleano on the swinging trapeze, the Codonas and the Siegrist-Silbons on the flying trapezeAerial act in which an acrobat is propelled from a trapeze to a catcher, or to another trapeze. (See also: Short-distance Flying Trapeze), and the undisputed star of the show, Lillian Leitzel, on the Roman ringsA pair of small wooden or metallic rings hanging from ropes or straps, used by circus aerialists as well as competition gymnasts..... (more...)

New Essays and Biographies

New Videos

  • Los Hermanos Reyes, juggling/perc-pole balancing (2022)
  • Ekaterina Dmitrieva, equestrian & aerial act (2022)
  • Duo Dádiva, rola-bolaA board balancing on one or more cylinders piled on each other, and on which an acrobat stands performing juggling or acrobatic tricks. (2020)
  • Duo Soul, aerial hoopA heavy metallic hoop used as a variance of trapeze, usually with contortion moves. (Also called Cerceau.) (2024)
  • Davio Togni, hippo, rhino and leopard act (c.1995)

New Oral Histories

Circopedia Books

A Message from the Founder

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