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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
[[File:Alessandro_Guerra_(1838).jpg|right|300px]]
 
===RUSSIA'S FIRST NATIONAL CIRCUS AND CIRCUS SCHOOL===
 
  
On November 22, 1845, the Italian equestrian Alessandro Guerra and his troupe gave their first performance in the circus they had just built on the old Place des Manèges—the "merry-go-round square", today’s Theatre Square—in St. Petersburg, in the shadow of the stately Kamennyi Theatre (the "stone theatre"). The Kamennyi was also known as the Bolshoi Theatre (the "grand" theatre), and like its homonym in Moscow, it housed the Imperial Ballet and Opera companies. For a long time, the vast Place des Manèges had welcomed visiting fairs and their merry-go-rounds, but the presence of the theater had since redeemed the square's prestige, and Guerra found himself in ideal surroundings.
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===RICO & ALEX BRIATORE===
 +
[[File:Rico_and_Alex.jpg|right|300px]]During the first half of the twentieth century, the Spanish clowns Rico y Alex (Enrico Briatore, 1881-1965, and Alessandro Briatore, 1870-1960), who came from an Italian circus family, were among Europe's most celebrated clowns. In Paris, they dethroned the legendary Foottit and Chocolat from their place of preëminence when they starred in the "Temple of Clowns", the famous Cirque Medrano, from four consecutive years, from 1910 to 1914. They were acrobats, musicians, and singers, and they spoke seven languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, English, Russian, and even a little Catalan), which allowed them to build a very successful international career. Although they spoke in their act, they didn't rely much on verbal comedy, which was trendy then: Rico and Alex were very physical, but their visual humor had a surprising elegance and a very human, charming touch that appealed greatly to their audiences.
  
Born in Rome, Italy, Guerra (1790-1856) had started his career at Vienna's Circus Gymnasticus, under the management of the Latvian equestrian Christoph de Bach, whose daughter, Elisa, Alessandro had seduced and married. Then, in 1826, he had created his own company, which toured under the name (fashionable at the time) of ''Cirque Olympique''. After the death of his father-in-law, Guerra engaged into a bitter rivalry with de Bach's widow, the beautiful Laura de Bach, and then went on to compete against Ernst Renz in Berlin before settling in the Capital of All Russias. Guerra was a remarkable trick-rider, famous for his aggressive manner in the ring (which he also displayed in private life), and which got him a nickname: Il Furioso.
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Rico and Alex were not, as it is often the case with clown duets, brothers: They were uncle (Alex) and nephew (Rico). The Italian Briatore dynasty had originated with Giuseppe Briatore (1831-?), an acrobat on horseback from Mondovi, Piedmont, in Northern Italy. Giuseppe was part of the equestrian troupe of the D'Angolys. He married in the D'Angoly family: He and the equestrienne Quinta D'Angoly had six children, Angelo, Enrico, Giovanni, Adele, Pietro, and Alessandro (the future Alex). Giuseppe ran his own circus for a brief time, and then created a troupe of acrobats on horseback with his five sons, which was the first to perform a three-man-high column standing on two horses. (The trick will be improved later by the amazing Fredianis, who performed it on a single horse!)
  
The circus that Guerra built in St. Petersburg was a large, rectangular wooden building that looked a little like a hangar, but with a Grecian-style pediment adorned with equestrian scenes, and, above the public entrance, a little portico supported by six pillars. It was not very luxurious, but it was comfortable and well heated (an important detail in St. Petersburg, which the press duly reported) and was well lighted (another vital aspect to the citizens of St. Petersburg, berated as they were by endless winter nights). The stables housed fifty horses, and Guerra also built a coffeehouse adjacent to the circus itself.... ([[Russia's First National Circus|more...]])
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The Briatore dynasty later produced several excellent jugglers, on horseback as well as on the floor—including the tempo juggling act of The D'Angolys, which performed with great success before and after WWII. Youngest son of Giuseppe and Quinta, Alessandro (Alex) was born in 1870 in Russia, where the Briatores were performing then, and made his debut in the ring five years later in Berlin; he made his clowning debut at the same time with the celebrated Tony Grice, escaping from the pocket of the latter's extra-large trousers! Although he would remain an acrobat and equestrian for many years to come, Alex had made his very first steps as a clown in good company!
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 +
The Briatores toured extensively all over Europe with their equestrian act, which was at the time one of the most famous bareback riding acts in the business. Enrico Briatore, the future Rico, was the first son of Alex's older brother, Angelo (?-1886), and his wife, Bertolina, née Ghiza, an equestrienne. (They had a second son, Angelo, born in 1885, who died in infancy in Paris in 1886.) Enrico was born on October 26, 1881, in Birmingham, England. His father died unexpectedly just before his second son's death, in 1886; Bertolina was just twenty-four and Rico was five. It is at this tender age that, like his uncle Alex before him, Rico began to work in the ring. He soon joined the family's equestrian act, and he also became a remarkable tumbler and acrobat.... ([[Rico y Alex|more...]])
  
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
  
 +
* [[Alexandre Palisse]], Clown, Circus Owner
 +
* [[Rico y Alex]], Clowns
 +
* [[Barbette]], Trapeze and Tightwire Artist
 
* [[Pablo Noel]], Animal Trainer
 
* [[Pablo Noel]], Animal Trainer
 
* [[Big Apple Circus]], History
 
* [[Big Apple Circus]], History
* [[Gerry Cottle]], Circus Owner
 
* [[Sarah Chapman]], Aerialist
 
* [[The 3 Bragazzi]], Comedy Acrobats
 
  
 
==New Videos==
 
==New Videos==
  
* [[Wellton_Video_(2010)|John Wellton]], Comedy Juggler (2010)
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* [[Michael_Video_(1975)|Michael]], Juggler (1975)
* [[Espanas_Video_(1983)|The Flying Españas]], Flying Trapeze (1983)
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* [[Naraeva_Video_(2017)|Vlada Naraeva]], Hand Balancer (2017)
* [[Wu_Zhengdan-Wei_Baohua_Video_(2008)|Wu Zhengdan & Wei Baohua]], Acrobatic Adagio (2008)
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* [[Bertram_Mills_Video_(1959)|Bertram Mills Circus]] at Olympia (1959)
* [[Duo_Unity_Video_(2016)|Duo Unity]], Cyr Wheel (2016)
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* [[Linon_Video_(1962)|Linon]], Comedy Bouncing Rope (1962)
* [[Credo_Video_(2017)|Trio Credo]], Russian Barre (2017)
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* [[Shandong_Risley_Video_(2010)|The Shandong Acrobatic Troupe]], Risley Act (2010)
  
 
==New Oral Histories==
 
==New Oral Histories==
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* [[Circopedia Books|Philip Astley & The Horsemen who invented the Circus]], by Dominique Jando (2018)
 
* [[Circopedia Books|Philip Astley & The Horsemen who invented the Circus]], by Dominique Jando (2018)
  
==A Message from Dominique Jando==
+
==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 [[Circopedia:Contact|contact us]]: we will definitely consider your remarks and suggestions.''  
 
''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 [[Circopedia:Contact|contact us]]: we will definitely consider your remarks and suggestions.''  

Latest revision as of 05:07, 6 December 2021

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

In The Spotlight

RICO & ALEX BRIATORE

Rico and Alex.jpg
During the first half of the twentieth century, the Spanish clowns Rico y Alex (Enrico Briatore, 1881-1965, and Alessandro Briatore, 1870-1960), who came from an Italian circus family, were among Europe's most celebrated clowns. In Paris, they dethroned the legendary Foottit and Chocolat from their place of preëminence when they starred in the "Temple of Clowns", the famous Cirque Medrano, from four consecutive years, from 1910 to 1914. They were acrobats, musicians, and singers, and they spoke seven languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, English, Russian, and even a little Catalan), which allowed them to build a very successful international career. Although they spoke in their act, they didn't rely much on verbal comedy, which was trendy then: Rico and Alex were very physical, but their visual humor had a surprising elegance and a very human, charming touch that appealed greatly to their audiences.

Rico and Alex were not, as it is often the case with clown duets, brothers: They were uncle (Alex) and nephew (Rico). The Italian Briatore dynasty had originated with Giuseppe Briatore (1831-?), an acrobat on horseback from Mondovi, Piedmont, in Northern Italy. Giuseppe was part of the equestrian troupe of the D'Angolys. He married in the D'Angoly family: He and the equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback. Quinta D'Angoly had six children, Angelo, Enrico, Giovanni, Adele, Pietro, and Alessandro (the future Alex). Giuseppe ran his own circus for a brief time, and then created a troupe of acrobats on horseback with his five sons, which was the first to perform a three-man-high column standing on two horses. (The trickAny specific exercise in a circus act. will be improved later by the amazing Fredianis, who performed it on a single horse!)

The Briatore dynasty later produced several excellent jugglers, on horseback as well as on the floor—including the tempo juggling act of The D'Angolys, which performed with great success before and after WWII. Youngest son of Giuseppe and Quinta, Alessandro (Alex) was born in 1870 in Russia, where the Briatores were performing then, and made his debut in the ring five years later in Berlin; he made his clowning debut at the same time with the celebrated Tony Grice, escaping from the pocket of the latter's extra-large trousers! Although he would remain an acrobat and equestrian for many years to come, Alex had made his very first steps as a clown in good company!

The Briatores toured extensively all over Europe with their equestrian act, which was at the time one of the most famous bareback riding acts in the business. Enrico Briatore, the future Rico, was the first son of Alex's older brother, Angelo (?-1886), and his wife, Bertolina, née Ghiza, an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback.. (They had a second son, Angelo, born in 1885, who died in infancy in Paris in 1886.) Enrico was born on October 26, 1881, in Birmingham, England. His father died unexpectedly just before his second son's death, in 1886; Bertolina was just twenty-four and Rico was five. It is at this tender age that, like his uncle Alex before him, Rico began to work in the ring. He soon joined the family's equestrian act, and he also became a remarkable tumbler and acrobat.... (more...)

New Essays and Biographies

New Videos

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