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==In The Spotlight==
 
==In The Spotlight==
[[File:Miss_Mara_Poster_1962.jpg|right|350px]]
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[[File:Ali_Hassani.JPG|Ali Hassani|right|300px]]
===MISS MARA===
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===ALI HASSANI===
  
María Papadópoulos y Vaquero (1934-2013) was born in 1934 in San Fernando, in the province of Cádiz, Spain, to Miro Papadópoulos Stavanovich, who had Greek ancestry but came from a Romanian family, and his wife, Remedios Vaquero Canela. María was the firstborn of a very large family: She had six brothers and one sister, and all her life she would assume a sort of matriarchal responsibility for her siblings, including her brother Antonio, known as Tonito, who became a celebrated acrobat on tight wire—before developing a famous tight wire duo, The Tonitos, with his brother Jorge.
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For some thirty years, Ali Hassani (1927-2010) ran the world's most famous troupe of Moroccan tumblers—and one of the best indeed in the entertainment business—before becoming a circus owner and producer in his adopted England. Yet, this highly respected artist and impresario came to the circus quite by accident, and in very unusual circumstances.
  
Mara, as she became known, made her debut in the ring at age five in 1939, in Cartagena, where she performed a small trapeze act in her father's circus, Circo Florida. A very strong girl, both physically and psychologically, Mara developed in time a remarkable trapeze act in which she did most of her work swinging—not a common presentation at the time. Her tricks included heel-catches, neck-hangs, and a slide to heel-catch in full swing, which had been a specialty of the great Australian trapeze artist Winnie Colleano. Mara worked at dizzying heights, without any safeguards.
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Ali Hassani was born Ali Houssain in a village on the outskirts of Marrakech, in Morocco, on March 7, 1927. Morocco has an age-long tradition of itinerant troupes of acrobats specializing in tumbling and building human pyramids, which for centuries have traveled from market places to village squares. They have been part of the circus practically since its inception, and can still be seen today in the ring, performing their traditional acrobatic skills in a style of presentation that has remained by and large unchanged.  
  
Mara's act was quite exceptional for its time—and would remain so for many years. In April 1945, the famous Spanish circus impresario, Juan Carcellé, noticed her at the Feria of Seville, where Circo Florida was performing. Three years later, when Miro Papadopoulos sold his circus to his brother, Cristóforo Cristo, Mara was free to strike out on her own. It was the beginning of a rich and brilliant international career.... ([[Miss Mara|more...]])
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Ali belonged to a poor family of thirteen children, and he and his siblings were often left to their own devices to scrap some food or make a few dirhams in the streets of Marrakech. One day, as he was watching a group of tumblers on Djama Al Ifna, a square in Marrakech, Ali, who was seven at the time, was abducted by the acrobats, who saw him as an ideal "top mounter"—the light acrobat who stood at the top of their human pyramids.
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It must be stressed, though, that Ali was not an unwilling participant; according to his daughter Zayna, "He used to run and watch as a child and the tumblers said 'do you want to do this?' and he was quite cheeky apparently and said 'yes' and they actually took him away with them." Nonetheless, his life changed forever, and he was never to see his parents or siblings again, in spite of his attempts at tracking them years later when he returned to Morocco.
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The tumbling troupe, with young Ali in tow, found engagements in neighboring Spain, where they remained through the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and WWII, since Spain was neutral  in the conflict. As an apprentice to the troupe, Ali was not paid: he was just given food and shelter, and the bare necessities of life. Yet, he enjoyed his new life and over the years, he became an excellent tumbler, eventually moving from a light top-mounter to a sturdy bottom man as he grew up.... ([[Ali Hassani|more...]])
  
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
 
==New Essays and Biographies==
  
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* [[Alessandro Guerra]], Equestrian, Circus Director
 +
* [[Jimmy Scott]], Clown
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* [[Alexis Gruss, Jr.]], Equestrian, Circus Owner
 
* [[Alona Zhuravel]], Hand-Balancer
 
* [[Alona Zhuravel]], Hand-Balancer
 
* [[George Carl]], Clown
 
* [[George Carl]], Clown
* [[Cedric Walker]], Circus Owner
 
* [[The Aragón Family]], Clown Dynasty
 
* [[Totti Alexis]], Clown
 
  
 
==New Videos==
 
==New Videos==
  
* [[Alona_Zhuravel_Video_(2019)|Alona Zhuravel]], Hand Balancer (2019)
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* [[Murillo_Ulysses_Video_(1989)|Murillo & Ulysses]], Hand-to-Hand Balancing (1989)
* [[George_Carl_Video_(1988)|George Carl]], clown entrée (1988)
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* [[One_Heart_Video_(2023)|Duo One Heart]], jugglers (2023)
* [[George_Carl_Video_(1979)|George Carl]], clown entrée (1979)
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* [[Jump'n'Roll_Video_(2020)|Jump'n'Roll]], Korean teeterboard (2020)
* [[George_Carl_Video_(1962)|George Carl]], clown entrée (1962)
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* [[Davydenko_Video_(2023)|Valeriia Davydenko]], hand balancer (2023)
* [[Tabares_Video_(2024)|The Flying Tabares]], flying trapeze (2024)
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* [[Amartuvshin_Video_(2024)|Hunnu Empire]], teeterboard act (2024)
  
 
==New Oral Histories==
 
==New Oral Histories==

Latest revision as of 01:43, 11 July 2024


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

In The Spotlight

Ali Hassani

ALI HASSANI

For some thirty years, Ali Hassani (1927-2010) ran the world's most famous troupe of Moroccan tumblers—and one of the best indeed in the entertainment business—before becoming a circus owner and producer in his adopted England. Yet, this highly respected artist and impresario came to the circus quite by accident, and in very unusual circumstances.

Ali Hassani was born Ali Houssain in a village on the outskirts of Marrakech, in Morocco, on March 7, 1927. Morocco has an age-long tradition of itinerant troupes of acrobats specializing in tumbling and building human pyramids, which for centuries have traveled from market places to village squares. They have been part of the circus practically since its inception, and can still be seen today in the ring, performing their traditional acrobatic skills in a style of presentation that has remained by and large unchanged.

Ali belonged to a poor family of thirteen children, and he and his siblings were often left to their own devices to scrap some food or make a few dirhams in the streets of Marrakech. One day, as he was watching a group of tumblers on Djama Al Ifna, a square in Marrakech, Ali, who was seven at the time, was abducted by the acrobats, who saw him as an ideal "top mounterIn an acrobatic or balancing act, the performer who holds the top position (on a human column, for instance)."—the light acrobat who stood at the top of their human pyramids.

It must be stressed, though, that Ali was not an unwilling participant; according to his daughter Zayna, "He used to run and watch as a child and the tumblers said 'do you want to do this?' and he was quite cheeky apparently and said 'yes' and they actually took him away with them." Nonetheless, his life changed forever, and he was never to see his parents or siblings again, in spite of his attempts at tracking them years later when he returned to Morocco.

The tumbling troupe, with young Ali in tow, found engagements in neighboring Spain, where they remained through the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and WWII, since Spain was neutral in the conflict. As an apprentice to the troupe, Ali was not paid: he was just given food and shelter, and the bare necessities of life. Yet, he enjoyed his new life and over the years, he became an excellent tumbler, eventually moving from a light top-mounter to a sturdy bottom man as he grew up.... (more...)

New Essays and Biographies

New Videos

  • Murillo & Ulysses, Hand-to-Hand Balancing (1989)
  • Duo One Heart, jugglers (2023)
  • Jump'n'Roll, Korean teeterboardA seesaw made of wood, or fiberglass poles tied together, which is used to propel acrobats in the air. (2020)
  • Valeriia Davydenko, hand balancer (2023)
  • Hunnu Empire, teeterboardA seesaw made of wood, or fiberglass poles tied together, which is used to propel acrobats in the air. act (2024)

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