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

In The Spotlight


Andreu Rivels 1961.jpg
The career of the Andreu-Rivels (also known as The 3 Rivels) spanned half a century, from 1920 to 1970. With a trio that has seen three different compositions while remaining centered around René Rivel, the brothers Andreu (Charlie, Polo, René, Celito, and Rogelio) were one of Europe’s most successful and celebrated clown act—even though over the years, their fame has been unduly shadowed by the stature (and it can be said, the considerable ego) of one of the trio's original members, Charlie Rivel, who left his brothers in 1935 to replicate the family act with other, anonymous partners and eventually pursue a "solo" career (albeit never without uncredited partners).

Their father, Pedro Jaime Andreu Pausas (?-1957), was the son of a cabinetmaker from Barcelona, Spain. In the 1880s, when he was fifteen years old, Pedro and his brother Juan left home to follow Circo Milá. As members of the circus, Pedro and Juan began performing a trapeze act. Pedro later joined another circus, Circo Alegría, where he met—and later married—a French acrobat, Marie-Louise Lasserre Seguino. Spain had fallen on hard times, and in order to survive, the young family decided to cross into France, where they hoped to find work. As they made their way toward the border, they performed in village squares across Catalonia.

In 1896, they were traveling in a hand-drawn wagon when Marie-Louise gave birth to José (the future Charlie, 1896-1983) in Cubelles, a village near Barcelona. Surviving as best as they could, they finally reached France three months later. They soon secured an engagement with the small Cirque Dusoulier. The following year, Marie-Louise gave birth to her second child, a daughter, Neña (Marie-Louise Andreu, 1897-1915). At age two, little José appeared in his father's risley act. Then the family went on to perform with the Cirque Caignac, where little José appeared in a parody of a strong-man act and in a hand-to-handAn acrobatic act in which one or more acrobats do hand-balancing in the hands of an under-stander. balancing act with his sister, for which he was originally dressed as a girl—which made their "all-girl" act look more attractive to agents and directors.... (more...)

New Essays and Biographies

New Videos

  • The Flying Tabares, flying trapezeAerial act in which an acrobat is propelled from a trapeze to a catcher, or to another trapeze. (See also: Short-distance Flying Trapeze) (2023)
  • Two On The Rope, corde lisse(French) A vertical rope used in aerial acts, either for the act itself, or to climb up to an apparatus. Called Spanish Web when covered with fabric. (2024)
  • The Flying Caballeros, flying trapezeAerial act in which an acrobat is propelled from a trapeze to a catcher, or to another trapeze. (See also: Short-distance Flying Trapeze) (2023)
  • Charlie Rivel, clown entrée(French) Clown piece with a dramatic structure, generally in the form of a short story or scene. (1969)
  • China Acrobatic Troupe, juggling act (2024)

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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