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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
[[Image:Philip_Astley.jpg|right|250px|Philip Astley]]
 
===A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CIRCUS===
 
  
If the history of theater, ballet, opera, vaudeville, movies, and television is generally well documented, serious studies of circus history are sparse, and known only to a few circus enthusiasts and scholars. What little the public at large knows, on the other hand, is circus history as told over the years by imaginative circus press agents, and repeated—and often misunderstood and distorted—by writers of popular fiction, Hollywood screenwriters, and journalists too busy to investigate further. One of the most popular misapprehensions about circus history is the oft-repeated idea that circus dates back to the Roman antiquity. But the Roman circus was in actuality the precursor of the modern racetrack; the only common denominator between Roman and modern circuses is the word itself, ''circus'', which means in Latin as in English, "circle".
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===HAROLD ALZANA===
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[[File:Harold_Alzana_(Cushman).jpg|right|300px]]
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Harold Alzana was, from the late forties to the mid-sixties, a star fixture of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. His daredevil manner—working on the high wire without a balancing pole and at high speed, which contrasted with the traditionally slow, seemingly careful, approach of the great high wire acrobats, such as The Wallendas, that had preceded him—inspired many of the high wire acts that are seen today.
  
The modern circus was actually created in England by [https://www.amazon.com/dp/1984041312/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517698824&sr=8-2&keywords=Philip+Astley+and+the+Horsemen Philip Astley] (1742-1814), a former cavalry Sergeant-Major turned showman. The son of a cabinet-maker and veneer-cutter, Astley had served in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) as part of Colonel Elliott's 15th Light Dragons regiment, where he displayed a remarkable talent as a horse-breaker and trainer. Upon his discharge, Astley chose to imitate the trick-riders who performed, with increasing success, all over Europe. Jacob Bates, an English equestrian based in the German States, who performed as far away as Russia (1764-65) and America (1772-73), was the first of these showmen to make a mark. Bates's emulators—Price, Johnson, Balp, Coningham, Faulkes, and "Old" Sampson—had become fixtures of London's pleasure gardens and provided Philip Astley with his inspiration. ([[SHORT HISTORY OF THE CIRCUS|more...]])
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He was born Harold Davis on September 19, 1917 in Maltby, a small mining town east of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. His father, Charles, worked there as a coal miner, but he was also an amateur acrobat, and he began training his children (Harold, his brother Edgar, and their sisters Hilda and Elsie) in his backyard, where he had installed a tight wire two feet off the ground.
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Charles’s training got good results: At age six, young Harold made his performing debut in local fairs and festivals. But this was just fun; when he reached fourteen, Harold Davis, like most young men in Maltby, followed in his father’s footsteps and began working as a coal miner. In 1941, he married his sweetheart, Minnie. World War II was raging, but Harold and his siblings never stopped practicing and improving their high wire act.
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The war over, Harold Alzana decided to leave the darkness of Maltby coalmines and tempt his luck in the circus spotlights: It was social climbing in every sense of term! His break came in 1946, when impresario Clem Butson, then producer of Blackpool’s Tower Circus, gave "The Sensational Alzanas" (as Harold and his siblings had named their act) a contract for the summer season. The highlight of the act was Harold crossing the wire on a bicycle with his sisters hanging from a trapeze suspended under it.
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If it was certainly, from the audience point of view, a spectacular finale, it was not in actuality much of a trick since the trapeze provided Harold’s bicycle with a counterweight: The more at risk were actually Hilda and Elsie. But Harold’s solos on the wire were another matter altogether, and this didn’t fail to impress one of John Ringling North’s European talent scouts. Johnny North immediately saw star potential in Harold Alzana, and the act was booked for the 1947 season of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, ''The Greatest Show On Earth''. ([[Harold Alzana|more...]])
  
 
==New Biographies==
 
==New Biographies==
  
* [[Irina Naumenko]], Hand Balancer
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* [[Baptiste Loisset]], Circus Owner and Equestrian
* [[The Owl and The Pussycat]], Trapeze Act
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* [[The Kornilov Dynasty]], Elephant Trainers
* [[Walter Nones]], Circus Director, Animal Trainer
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* [[Sergei Korolev]], Acrobat
* [[Norman Crider]], Juggler
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* [[Victor Fomine]], Acrobat, Circus Coach
* [[Zhejiang Acrobatic Troupe]], Chinese Acrobatics
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* [[Annie Fratellini]], Clown, Circus Director
  
 
==New Videos==
 
==New Videos==
  
* [[Kelli_Ramazini_Video_(2018)|Kelli Ramazini]], Trapeze (2018)
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* [[Saralaev_Video_(2018)|Saralaev Troupe]], Perch-Pole Balancing (2018)
* [[Fuma_Boys_Monte_Carlo_Video_(2001)|The Fuma Boys]], Comedy Acrobatic (2001)
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* [[Desire_Of_Flight_Video_(2014)|Desire Of Flight]], Aerial Straps (2014)
* [[Emile_Carey_Video_(2005)|Emile Carey]], Juggler (2005)
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* [[Kozhevnikov_Video_(1963)|Ivan Kozhevnikov]], Juggler (1963)
* [[Selifanov_Video_(2001)|The Selifanov Troupe]], Flying Trapeze (2001)
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* [[Rampin_Video_(2015)|Los Rampin]], Clown Entrée (2015)
* [[Rene_and_Alexia_Casselly_Video_(2001)|René & Alexia Casselly]], Pas-de-Deux on Elephants (2001)
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* [[Togni_Elephants_Video_(1988)|Flavio Togni]], Elephant Act (1988)
  
==Featured Oral Histories==
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==New Oral Histories==
  
* [[Circo_Price_Video_(2017)|A Short History of Madrid's Old Circo Price]], Circus History (1970)
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* [[Rosa_Bouglione_Video_(2012)|Rosa Bouglione]]'s interview on Franch Television (2012)
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* [[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)
 
* [[Anastasia_Dementieva_Video_(2017)|Anastasia Dementieva-Kornilova]] – Vadim Vernik Interview (2017)
 
* [[Freres_Knie_Video_(1962)|''Les Frères Knie'']], Documentary (1962)
 
* [[Freres_Knie_Video_(1962)|''Les Frères Knie'']], Documentary (1962)
 
* [[Jean_Richard_Video_(1979)|Jean Richard and Jean-Pierre Richard]] at the Cirque Jean Richard – Christian Boner Interview (1979)
 
* [[Jean_Richard_Video_(1979)|Jean Richard and Jean-Pierre Richard]] at the Cirque Jean Richard – Christian Boner Interview (1979)
* [[Buster_Keaton_Video_(1947)|Jérôme Medrano about Buster Keaton]] at the Cirque Medrano (1947)
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==2018 Circopedia Award==
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* [[Dandies_Video_(2018)|''Dandies'' (Yury Kreer, Johnny Gasser, Kirill Ivanov)]], Russian Barre
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==New Circopedia Books==
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* [[Circopedia Books|Philip Astley & The Horsemen who invented the Circus]], by Dominique Jando (2018)
  
 
==A Message from the Editor==
 
==A Message from the Editor==

Latest revision as of 02:50, 21 November 2018

Welcome! ✫ Bienvenue! ✫ Willkommen! ✫ Добро Пожаловать!
Bienvenida! ✫ Benvenuto! ✫ 歡迎 ! ✫ Vítejte! ✫ Καλώς ήρθατε!
Üdvözöljük! ✫ Добре Дошли! ✫ Welkom! ✫ Ласкаво Просимо!
Velkommen! ✫ Tervetuloa! ✫ Дабро Запрашаем! ✫ Välkommen!

Circopedia was originally created with the support of the Big Apple Circus,
and has been inspired and funded by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

In The Spotlight

HAROLD ALZANA

Harold Alzana (Cushman).jpg

Harold Alzana was, from the late forties to the mid-sixties, a star fixture of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. His daredevil manner—working on the high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire. without a balancing pole and at high speed, which contrasted with the traditionally slow, seemingly careful, approach of the great high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire. acrobats, such as The Wallendas, that had preceded him—inspired many of the high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire. acts that are seen today.

He was born Harold Davis on September 19, 1917 in Maltby, a small mining town east of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. His father, Charles, worked there as a coal miner, but he was also an amateur acrobat, and he began training his children (Harold, his brother Edgar, and their sisters Hilda and Elsie) in his backyard, where he had installed a 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) two feet off the ground.

Charles’s training got good results: At age six, young Harold made his performing debut in local fairs and festivals. But this was just fun; when he reached fourteen, Harold Davis, like most young men in Maltby, followed in his father’s footsteps and began working as a coal miner. In 1941, he married his sweetheart, Minnie. World War II was raging, but Harold and his siblings never stopped practicing and improving their high wireA tight, heavy metallic cable placed high above the ground, on which wire walkers do crossings and various acrobatic exercises. Not to be confused with a tight wire. act.

The war over, Harold Alzana decided to leave the darkness of Maltby coalmines and tempt his luck in the circus spotlights: It was social climbing in every sense of term! His break came in 1946, when impresario Clem Butson, then producer of Blackpool’s Tower Circus, gave "The Sensational Alzanas" (as Harold and his siblings had named their act) a contract for the summer season. The highlight of the act was Harold crossing the wire on a bicycle with his sisters hanging from a trapeze suspended under it.

If it was certainly, from the audience point of view, a spectacular finale, it was not in actuality much of a trickAny specific exercise in a circus act. since the trapeze provided Harold’s bicycle with a counterweight: The more at risk were actually Hilda and Elsie. But Harold’s solos on the wire were another matter altogether, and this didn’t fail to impress one of John Ringling North’s European talent scouts. Johnny North immediately saw star potential in Harold Alzana, and the act was booked for the 1947 season of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show On Earth. (more...)

New Biographies

New Videos

New Oral Histories

2018 Circopedia Award

New 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