By Dominique Jando
Born in Windsor, England, Nov. 24, 1953, Yasmine Smart is the daughter of David Smart (1929-2007) and Olga Elleano-Stey (b. 1932 in a Swiss family of wirewalkers), and the granddaughter of the famous English showman, Billy Smart. Yasmine made her debut in the ring at age 11, at Billy Smart's New World Circus, with a group of 12 Shetland ponies. She was tutored in horse and animal training by John Gindl, who was at the time Billy Smart's Circus’s head trainer. Although an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback. by choice, Yasmine worked as well with exotic animals and elephants--animals she presented in other British circuses, such as Blackpool’s Tower Circus, and Belle Vue Circus in Manchester, after Billy Smart's Circus folded its tents in 1971. She also presented horses for other circuses, notably for Circus Krone and Circus Hagenbeck (Germany), and Circus Knie (Switzerland). In addition she became a celebrated "Ringmistress"--a role she originated at the Billy Smart’s Circus Christmas Spectacular, a BBC Holiday special that continued airing for several years after the Billy Smart's Circus had ceased touring. It is in that capacity that she participated for the first time in the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in 1975. The following year, she presented a group of horses "at liberty"Liberty act", "Horses at liberty": Unmounted horses presented from the center of the ring by an equestrian directing his charges with his voice, body movements, and signals from a ''chambrière'' (French), or long whip." from Circus Krone at a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee at Windsor. In 1980 she purchased a group of 10 Arab stallions, which she trained herself, and with which she worked until 2003, when she went to the US to perform as Equestrian Director at the Big Apple Circus. In 1981, she participated again in the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo--as an equestrienneA female equestrian, or horse trainer, horse presenter, or acrobat on horseback. this time--and won the prestigious "Dame du Cirque" award. She returned to the Festival in 1985 to win the coveted Silver Clown award for her "liberty"Liberty act", "Horses at liberty": Unmounted horses presented from the center of the ring by an equestrian directing his charges with his voice, body movements, and signals from a ''chambrière'' (French), or long whip." act, and she was awarded a second time "La Dame du Cirque" in 1995. She was thus the first British artist to be awarded in Monte-Carlo, and the only artist to have been awarded three times. Among many other venues, Yasmine Smart has been featured with Circus Jacobi-Althoff and Circus Roncalli (Germany), Liana Orfei's Golden Circus Festival (Italy), and the Big Apple Circus (USA), where she spent four seasons, creating a new act each season. Yasmine has also been featured in several horse shows and festivals in Germany and France, and on several TV shows in Europe. In 2007, she was a Jury at the International Festival of Monte-Carlo. Yasmine Smart married Dany Cesar (Bradford) in 1978; they separated in 1989.