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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

ALEXANDRE PALISSE

Palisse in costume.png
In the first half of the twentieth century, Alexandre Palisse (1876-1932) managed one of the best circuses touring the French provinces (and some bordering countries); in addition, his traveling equipment, which he conceived, was extremely innovative at the time and would inspire some of his competitors' way of touring. Palisse was also a clownGeneric term for all clowns and augustes. '''Specific:''' In Europe, the elegant, whiteface character who plays the role of the straight man to the Auguste in a clown team., well known in Europe and South America for his spectacular costumes, his impeccable makeup, and his talent for training small animals. After his death in 1932, Jérôme Medrano bought and continued to exploit his elegant and revolutionary touring circus.

Alexandre François Palisse was born in a circus family on November 17, 1876, during the family's stay in Saint-Chamond, an early industrial town in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. His father was Louis-Marius Palisse (1856-1891), an acrobat; his mother, Louise (1859-1895), née Bertoletti, was an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback.. Alexandre, who had a younger brother, Nicolas (1879-1938, an acrobat), was fifteen when he lost his father, and his mother died four years later: He had to help support his family at a young age, which developed in him earnestness and a sense of responsibility that was in no small part the reason of his success in life.

He was a good acrobat and tumbler, and had a knack for training small domestic animals, notably dogs. This led him to clowning, since small animal training was at the time regarded as the domain of clowns (which was spectacularly demonstrated by many of them, notably Anatoly and Vladimir Durov). Palisse worked either alone or with partners such as Pierre Perié (who will also create his own, successful circus) and Leonardo Ceratto, with whom he worked extensively in Spain and Portugal, and even in Argentina, where he had an enormous success with his trademark trained bulldogs.... (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