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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

The Lorch Family (c1890).jpeg


The Lorch family was a highly respected Jewish circus family that owned a circus in Germany intermittently from the nineteenth century until 1930. Founded by Hirsch Lorch (1817-1901) in the second half of the nineteenth century, Circus Lorch was continued by his sons, Adolf (1845-1918), who was born in Manheim on May 4, 1845, and Louis (1847-1924), born in Lörrach, in Baden-Württemberg, on July 14, 1847. Before the turn of the twentieth century, the brothers worked in partnership, and their Circus Gebrüder Lorch traveled principally in southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

The family acts presented in the show included horsemanship and a remarkable Risley actAct performed by Icarists, in which one acrobat, lying on his back, juggles another acrobat with his feet. (Named after Richard Risley Carlisle, who developed this type of act.) performed by Louis’s children, which would acquire a towering reputation on the international circus and variety scene during the first half of the twentieth century. The circus maintained winter quarters in Eschollbrücken (today part of Pfungstadt, in the district of Darmstadt-Dieburg) in southern Hessen, where Hirsch Lorch and his family had settled in 1870.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, while Adolf continued to manage the circus, Louis and his many children went on their own with their Risley actAct performed by Icarists, in which one acrobat, lying on his back, juggles another acrobat with his feet. (Named after Richard Risley Carlisle, who developed this type of act.). (Under the sole management of Adolf, Circus Lorch lasted until the beginning of WWI.) With up to eleven performers (family members and partners or apprentices), and at times, horses, Louis’s Lorch Family act was one of the world’s biggest—and indeed one of the best—Risley acts. A true star attraction(Russian) A circus act that can occupy up to the entire second half of a circus performance. and very much sought after, it toured for nearly three decades with considerable success in Europe, the United States and South America.

In 1909, the Lorch Family troupe sailed to the New World, where their act was featured with the Ringling Bros. Circus; it remained there until 1912, working in American vaudeville during the winter months. Even after he stopped being an active participant in the act, Louis continued to travel with his family until his death in 1924—after which his eldest son, Julius (1875-1942), born December 11, 1875 in Neuwied-am-Rhein, succeeded him as head of the troupe. The most outstanding feats in the Lorch Family act were a series of three consecutive double somersaults that Julius’s son Egon (1900-1954) turned on his father’s feet, and an extremely rare triple somersault. (more...)

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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