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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


Walter Nones and tiger.jpeg
Even though he was not born in the circus, Walter Nones (1934-2016) was, in Italy, a reformer of the classic circus form, one of the few circus visionaries who have marked the second half of the 20th century (from Arturo Castilla to Jean Richard and Gerry Cottle) and built true circus empires in their own countries equating in strength the circus empires of yore.

Walter Nones was also a remarkable acrobat and a superb animal trainer; he had an engaging personality—as much when ha addressed his audience as when, away from the spotlight, he acted as the "general" of his enterprises, or in his dealing with the media and the Italian administration. Endowed with a solid intuition and a rare ability for taking calculated risks, he was able to change directions and diversify his company many times; his constant imperative was novelty, for which he was faithful to the style and methods of the great Italian variety entrepreneurs.

Walter Nones was able to build with his wife, Moira Orfei, a legend that went well beyond their circus—a circus that was certainly unique in the fact that it traveled constantly for fifty-five years without ever taking a true break! Nones was among the Italian pioneers of the internationalization of show business and, as such, he even became instrumental in the establishment of new relations between the former URSS and the Vatican.

Walter Nones was born in Trent, capital of the Trentino province in northern Italy, on June 18, 1934, the oldest of the four children of Giuseppe Nones and his wife, Adele, née Medini, a circus artist. Giuseppe was a cabinet maker; he spent his life between his workshop and the gym, following in that an old Trent tradition: A great number of its citizens had developed over the years a passion for gymnastics.... (more...)

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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