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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
  
===THE BIG APPLE CIRCUS===
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===RICO & ALEX BRIATORE===
[[File:Big_Apple_Circus_Picturesque_set_(2004).jpg|right|400px]]
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[[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.
A cherished New York Institution, the original, not-for-profit Big Apple Circus was created in 1977 by Paul Binder and his juggling partner, Michael Christensen, as the performing arm of the New York School for Circus Arts. Its enormous success soon put the school in the shadows, and the circus took over as the principal activity of the organization. It became one of the world’s most respected and successful circuses—until the economic crisis of 2008, which dramatically impacted its fund-raising capacity, sadly led it to file for bankruptcy eight years later.
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Its name and equipment were sold to private investors who brought the Big Apple Circus back to life in September 2017 in its traditional winter venue, Damrosch Park, in New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center for The Performing Arts. The new Big Apple Circus quickly abandoned its spring-summer tours of the northeast United States and beyond, and limited its activity to its Lincoln Center four-month winter season. However, the Covid pandemic prevented it from performing in the winter of 2020-21. (As of August 2021, it is not yet known when or if it will resume its performances.)
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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!)
  
As a child, Paul Binder was occasionally taken to the circus by his parents at Madison Square Garden. "I do have one very powerful memory," Paul said, "a spotlighted Unus, alone in the center ring, doing his one-finger stand on a lighted globe. It was very dramatic!" However, the idea that within the circus ring would lie his career never entered his mind.
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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!
  
Later, Paul attended Dartmouth College, where he joined the Dartmouth Players and the Hopkins Center Repertory Theatre, and then earned an MBA at Columbia University. After a brief stint at Boston University’s School of Fine and Applied Arts, he went to work on television as stage manager for Julia Child’s cooking shows, and later as talent coordinator for The Merv Griffin Show. It was the end of the 1960s, and Paul was restless with the times.
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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...]])
 
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Meanwhile, in Walla-Walla, Washington, where he was born, Michael Christensen was struggling with a difficult childhood. Somehow, he needed to act out the feelings stirred by his uneasy life, so, quite naturally, he enrolled in the Professional Actor Training program at the University of Washington. As for the circus: "When the circus came to town in the summer, I helped setting up the tents with my brother in exchange for free passes. I also remember laughing uncontrollably at a clown gag—but I don’t remember who the clown was nor what was the gag.".... ([[Big Apple Circus|more...]])
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==New Essays and Biographies==
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
  
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* [[Alexandre Palisse]], Clown, Circus Owner
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* [[Rico y Alex]], Clowns
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* [[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==
  
* [Jigalov_Video_(2008)|Jigalov]], Clown (2008)
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* [[Michael_Video_(1975)|Michael]], Juggler (1975)
* [[Alex_Lacey_Video_(2008)|Alex Lacey]], Lion and Tiger Act (2008)
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* [[Naraeva_Video_(2017)|Vlada Naraeva]], Hand Balancer (2017)
* [[Susan_Lacey_Video_(2010)|Susan Lacey]], Tiger Act (2010)
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* [[Bertram_Mills_Video_(1959)|Bertram Mills Circus]] at Olympia (1959)
* [[Wellton_Video_(2010)|John Wellton]], Comedy Juggler (2010)
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* [[Linon_Video_(1962)|Linon]], Comedy Bouncing Rope (1962)
* [[Espanas_Video_(1983)|The Flying Españas]], Flying Trapeze (1983)
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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==
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==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

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 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