In The Spotlight
THE KNIE DYNASTY
When Friedrich Knie (1784-1850), the son of an Austrian physician, fell in love with Wilma, a beautiful equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback., in 1803 at Innsbruck, little did he know that this adventure would be at the origin of one of the most prestigious circus dynasties. Born in Erfurt and nineteen years old, the young Friedrich left his studies without a second thought and went on to roam the country with a small company of traveling performers.
Friedrich’s infatuation was short lived, but he enjoyed his new life as an itinerant entertainer, and he decided to create his own company of ropedancers, a craft he had learned during his tours. In 1807, he met and fell in love with Antonia (Toni) Stauffer. Toni’s father, a reputable barber, refused to consider the prospect of his daughter marrying a traveling entertainer, and as a precaution, he sent her to a convent. As the Knie family lore has it, Friedrich abducted the object of his flame on a night of lightnings and thunder, and the two lovers got married that same year.
Soon came the family’s second generation of performers: Rudolf Knie (1808-1858) was born on July 14, 1808. Four more children followed: Georg (1809-1849), Karl (1813-1860), Fanny-Adelheid (1814-1857), and Franz (1816-1896). All of them would become ropedancers and acrobats.... (more...)
- Zhejiang Acrobatic Troupe, Chinese Acrobatics
- Gene Mendez, High Wire Artist
- Franz Czeisler (Tihany), Magician, Circus Owner
- Circuses Fernando and Medrano, History
- Kannan Bombayo, Rope Dancer
- The Dollies, Bicycle Act (1969)
- The Akeff Trio, Risley Act (1964)
- The Picard Troupe, Jockeys (1964)
- Marina Osinskaya, High Wire (1980)
- Wolfgang Holzmair, Lion Act (1968)
Featured Oral Histories
- Jean Richard and Jean-Pierre Richard at the Cirque jean Richard - Christian Boner Interview (1979)
- Jérôme Medrano about Buster Keaton at the Cirque Medrano (1947)
- Moira Orfei, Circus Owner - Davide Maggio Interview (2012)
- Oleg Popov, clown - Russian Television Feature (2014)
- Albert Fratellini, clown - French Television Interview (1957)
A Message from the Editor
CIRCOPEDIA is a constantly evolving and expanding encyclopedia of the international circus. New videos, biographies, essays, and documents are added to the site on a weekly—and sometimes daily—basis. So 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