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A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include
clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Hum ...

clown
s,
acrobats Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek ἀκροβατέω, ''akrobateo'', "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of human feats of balance (ability), balance, agility, and motor coordination. Acrobatic skills are used in performing arts, sports, s ...

acrobats
, trained animals,
trapeze upright=1.5, Trapeze artists, in lithograph by Calvert Litho. Co., 1890. A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus A circus is a company of performer ...

trapeze
acts,
musician A musician is a person who Composer, composes, Conducting, conducts, or Performing arts, performs music. According to the United States Employment Service, "musician" is a general Terminology, term used to designate one who follows music as a pr ...

musician
s,
dancer Dance is a performing art The performing arts are arts such as music, dance, and drama which are performed for an audience. It is different from visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the prac ...

dancer
s,
hoopers Hooping (also called hula hooping or hoop dance) is the manipulation Manipulation may refer to: As underhand influence *Psychological manipulation **Crowd manipulation *Data manipulation *Media manipulation *Internet manipulation *Market manipula ...
,
tightrope walker Tightrope walking, also called funambulism, is the skill of walking along a thin wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads or electricity Electricity is the ...
s,
jugglers Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling. Juggling can be the manipulation of one object or ...
, magicians, ventriloquists, and
unicyclists
unicyclists
as well as other
object manipulation Object manipulation is a form of dexterity Fine motor skill (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles in movement with the eyes, usually involving the synchronisation of hands and fingers. The complex levels of manual dexterity that h ...

object manipulation
and stunt-oriented artists. The term ''circus'' also describes the performance which has followed various formats through its 250-year modern history. Although not the inventor of the medium,
Philip Astley Philip Astley (8 January 1742 – 20 October 1814) was an English equestrian, circus owner, and inventor, regarded as being the " father of the modern circus". Modern circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainm ...
is credited as the father of the modern circus. In 1768, Astley, a skilled equestrian, began performing exhibitions of trick horse riding in an open field called Ha'Penny Hatch on the south side of the
Thames River The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of its southernm ...
. In 1770, he hired acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill in the pauses between the equestrian demonstrations and thus chanced on the format which was later named a "circus". Performances developed significantly over the next fifty years, with large-scale theatrical battle reenactments becoming a significant feature. The traditional format, in which a ringmaster introduces a variety of choreographed acts set to music, developed in the latter part of the 19th century and remained the dominant format until the 1970s. As styles of performance have developed since the time of Astley, so too have the types of venues where these circuses have performed. The earliest modern circuses were performed in open-air structures with limited covered seating. From the late 18th to late 19th century, custom-made circus buildings (often wooden) were built with various types of seating, a centre ring, and sometimes a stage. The traditional large tents commonly known as "big tops" were introduced in the mid-19th century as touring circuses superseded static venues. These tents eventually became the most common venue. Contemporary circuses perform in a variety of venues including tents, theatres and casinos. Many circus performances are still held in a ring, usually 13 m (42 ft) in diameter. This dimension was adopted by Astley in the late 18th century as the minimum diameter that enabled an acrobatic horse rider to stand upright on a cantering horse to perform their tricks.
Contemporary circus Contemporary circus (also known as new circus, and ''nouveau cirque'' and ''cirque contemporain'' in French language, French-speaking countries) is a genre of performing arts developed in the late 20th century in which a story or theme is conveyed t ...
has been credited with a revival of the circus tradition since the late 1970s, when a number of groups began to experiment with new circus formats and aesthetics, typically avoiding the use of animals to focus exclusively on human artistry. Circuses within the movement have tended to favour a theatrical approach, combining character-driven circus acts with original music in a broad variety of styles to convey complex themes or stories. Contemporary circus continues to develop new variations on the circus tradition while absorbing new skills, techniques, and stylistic influences from other performing arts.


Etymology

First attested in English 14th century, the word ''circus'' derives from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''circus'', which is the
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspec ...
of the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
''κίρκος'' (''kirkos''), itself a metathesis of the
Homeric Greek Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the ''Iliad'' and ''Odyssey'' and in the Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic Greek, Ionic and Aeolic Greek, Aeolic, with a fe ...
''κρίκος'' (''krikos''), meaning "circle" or "ring". In the book ''De Spectaculis'' early Christian writer Tertullian claimed that the first circus games were staged by the goddess
Circe Circe (; grc, , ) is an enchantress and a minor goddess A goddess is a female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, m ...

Circe
in honour of her father
Helios Helios; Homeric Greek Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the ''Iliad'' and ''Odyssey'' and in the Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic Greek, Ionic and Aeol ...

Helios
, the Sun God.


History

The modern and commonly held idea of a circus is of a Big Top with various acts providing entertainment therein. However, the history of circuses is more complex, with historians disagreeing on its origin, as well as revisions being done about the history due to the changing nature of historical research, and the ongoing circus phenomenon. For many, circus history begins with Englishman
Philip Astley Philip Astley (8 January 1742 – 20 October 1814) was an English equestrian, circus owner, and inventor, regarded as being the " father of the modern circus". Modern circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainm ...
, while for others its origins go back much further—to
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...

Roman
times.


Origin

In Ancient Rome, the ''
circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include s, , trained animals, acts, s, s, , s, , s, , and as well as other and stunt-oriented artists. The term ''circus'' also describes the performance w ...
'' was a building for the exhibition of horse and chariot races, equestrian shows, staged battles, gladiatorial combat, and displays of (and fights with) trained animals. The circuses of Rome were similar to the ancient Greek
hippodrome The hippodrome ( el, ἱππόδρομος) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the ...

hippodrome
s, although circuses served varying purposes and differed in design and construction, and for events that involved re-enactments of naval battles, the circus was flooded with water. The Roman circus buildings were, however, not circular but rectangular with semi circular ends. The lower seats were reserved for persons of rank; there were also various state boxes for the giver of the games and his friends. The circus was the only public spectacle at which men and women were not separated. Some circus historians such as
George Speaight George Victor Speaight (; 6 September 1914 – 22 December 2005) was a theatre historian, author and performer and the leading authority on 19th-century toy theatre Toy theater, also called paper theater and model theater (also spelt theatre, se ...
have stated "these performances may have taken place in the great arenas that were called 'circuses' by the Romans, but it is a mistake to equate these places, or the entertainments presented there, with the modern circus" Others have argued that the lineage of the circus does go back to the Roman circuses and a chronology of circus-related entertainment can be traced to Roman times, continued by the
Hippodrome of Constantinople Sultanahmet Square ( tr, Sultanahmet Meydanı), or the Hippodrome of Constantinople ( el, Ἱππόδρομος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Hippódromos tēs Kōnstantinoupóleōs, la, Circus Maximus Constantinopolitanus, tr ...
that operated until the 13th century, through medieval and renaissance jesters, minstrels and troubadours to the late 18th century and the time of Astley. The first circus in the city of Rome was the
Circus Maximus The Circus Maximus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repub ...

Circus Maximus
, in the valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills. It was constructed during the monarchy and, at first, built completely from wood. After being rebuilt several times, the final version of the Circus Maximus could seat 250,000 people; it was built of stone and measured 400m in length and 90m in width. Next in importance were the
Circus Flaminius The Circus Flaminius was a large, circular area in ancient Rome, located in the southern end of the Campus Martius near the Tiber River. It contained a small race-track used for obscure games, and various other buildings and monuments. It was "buil ...
and the
Circus Neronis
Circus Neronis
, from the notoriety which it obtained through the Circensian pleasures of Nero. A
fourth circus
fourth circus
was constructed by
Maxentius Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius (c. 283 – 28 October 312) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughou ...
; its ruins have helped archaeologists reconstruct the Roman circus. For some time after the fall of Rome, large circus buildings fell out of use as centres of mass entertainment. Instead, itinerant performers, animal trainers, and showmen travelled between towns throughout Europe, performing at local fairs.


Modern format


Astley and early British circus

The origin of the modern circus has been attributed to
Philip Astley Philip Astley (8 January 1742 – 20 October 1814) was an English equestrian, circus owner, and inventor, regarded as being the " father of the modern circus". Modern circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainm ...
, who was born 1742 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England. He became a cavalry officer who set up the first modern amphitheatre for the display of horse riding tricks in Lambeth, London, on 4 April 1768.''The Oxford English Dictionary'' lists the 1791 book ''The History of the Royal Circus'' about Philip Astley's troupe as the first written use of the word to describe the modern circus. Astley did not originate trick horse riding, nor was he first to introduce acts such as acrobats and clowns to the English public, but he was the first to create a space where all these acts were brought together to perform a show. Astley rode in a circle rather than a straight line as his rivals did, and thus chanced on the format of performing in a circle. Astley performed stunts in a 42 ft diameter ring, which is the standard size used by circuses ever since."The circus comes to the Circus"
BBC News. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
Astley referred to the performance arena as a circle and the building as an amphitheatre; these would later be known as a circus. In 1770, Astley hired
acrobats Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek ἀκροβατέω, ''akrobateo'', "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of human feats of balance (ability), balance, agility, and motor coordination. Acrobatic skills are used in performing arts, sports, s ...

acrobats
, ,
jugglers Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling. Juggling can be the manipulation of one object or ...

jugglers
, and a clown to fill in the pauses between acts. Astley was followed by Andrew Ducrow, whose feats of horsemanship had much to do with establishing the traditions of the circus, which were perpetuated by Hengler's and Sanger's celebrated shows in a later generation. In England circuses were often held in purpose-built buildings in large cities, such as the
London Hippodrome The Hippodrome is a building on the corner of Cranbourn Street Cranbourn Street is a street in Central London. It connects Leicester Square to Long Acre via Charing Cross Road. The street was constructed in the 1670s, and named after the Wil ...

London Hippodrome
, which was built as a combination of the circus, the menagerie, and the variety theatre, where wild animals such as lions and elephants from time to time appeared in the ring, and where convulsions of nature such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have been produced with an extraordinary wealth of realistic display.
Joseph Grimaldi Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837) was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era The Regency era in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland T ...

Joseph Grimaldi
, the first mainstream
clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Hum ...

clown
, had his first major role as Little Clown in the pantomime ''The Triumph of Mirth; or, Harlequin's Wedding'' in 1781. The was opened in London on 4 November 1782 by
Charles Dibdin up''Charles Dibdin'', 1799, by Thomas Phillips (died 1845), oil on canvas Charles Dibdin (before 4 March 1745 – 25 July 1814) was an English composer, musician, dramatist, novelist, singer and actor. With over 600 songs to his name, for many of ...
(who coined the term "circus"), aided by his partner Charles Hughes, an equestrian performer. In 1782, Astley established the Amphithéâtre Anglais in Paris, the first purpose-built circus in France, followed by 18 other permanent circuses in cities throughout Europe.Philip Astley (British circus manager)
''Encyclopædia Britannica''.
Astley leased his Parisian circus to the Italian
Antonio Franconi Antonio Franconi (1737 in Venice, Italy - 1836 in Paris, France) was an Italian equestrianism, equestrian. He started as a juggler and wandering physician, then arranged bullfights in Lyon and Bordeaux. In 1783, he associated with the English horse ...
in 1793. In 1826, the first circus took place under a canvas big top.


Ricketts and the first American circus

The Englishman
John Bill Ricketts File:Houghton HEW 14.4.1 - Ricketts and Cornplanter.jpg, Ricketts and his horse, Cornplanter, performing John Bill Ricketts (1769–1835) was an English equestrian who brought the first modern circus to the United States. Biography Ricketts began h ...
brought the first modern circus to the United States. He began his theatrical career with Hughes Royal Circus in London in the 1780s, and travelled from England in 1792 to establish his first circus in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
. The first circus building in the US opened on 3 April 1793 in Philadelphia, where Ricketts gave America's first complete circus performance.
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
attended a performance there later that season.


Expansion of the American format

In the Americas during the first two decades of the 19th century, the Circus of Pepin and Breschard toured from Montreal to Havana, building circus theatres in many of the cities it visited.
Victor PépinVictor Adolphus Pépin (March 8, 1780 – 1845) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), co ...
, a native New Yorker, was the first American to operate a major circus in the United States. Later the establishments of Purdy, Welch & Co., and of van Amburgh gave a wider popularity to the circus in the United States. In 1825, Joshuah Purdy Brown was the first circus owner to use a large canvas tent for the circus performance. Circus pioneer
Dan Rice Dan Rice (January 23, 1823 – February 22, 1900) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America ...
was the most famous pre-
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
circus clown,David Carlyon. ''Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You've Never Heard Of'' popularizing such expressions as "The One-Horse Show" and "". The American circus was revolutionized by
P. T. Barnum Phineas Taylor Barnum (; July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and politician, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and founding the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Barnum & Bailey Circus (1871 ...
and
William Cameron Coup William Cameron Coup (August 4, 1836 – March 4, 1895) was a Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state in the Upper Midwest region of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), ...
, who launched the travelling P. T. Barnum's Museum, Menagerie & Circus, the first
freak show and its popular ongoing freak show in August 2008. A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to in popular culture as "freaks of nature". Typical features would be physically unusual Human#Anatomy and physiology, humans, suc ...
. Coup also introduced the first multiple-ring circuses, and was also the first circus entrepreneur to use
circus train Circus train of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, parked on the Grand Junction Railroad in back of MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts during a series of performances at the Boston Garden in 1984. A circus train is a method of conveyan ...

circus train
s to transport the circus between towns.


Touring

In 1838, the equestrian Thomas Taplin Cooke returned to England from the United States, bringing with him a circus tent. At this time, itinerant circuses that could be fitted-up quickly were becoming popular in Britain. William Batty's circus, for example, between 1838 and 1840, travelled from Newcastle to Edinburgh and then to Portsmouth and Southampton.
Pablo Fanque Pablo Fanque (born William Darby; 30 March 1810 – 4 May 1871) was a British equestrian performer and circus proprietor, the first recorded non-white British circus owner in United Kingdom, Britain. His circus was popular in Victorian Britain for ...

Pablo Fanque
, who is noteworthy as Britain's only black circus proprietor and who operated one of the most celebrated travelling circuses in Victorian England, erected temporary structures for his limited engagements or retrofitted existing structures. One such structure in Leeds, which Fanque assumed from a departing circus, collapsed, resulting in minor injuries to many but the death of Fanque's wife. Traveling circus companies also rented the land they set up their structures on sometimes causing damage to the local ecosystems. Three important circus innovators were the Italian , and Frenchmen Louis Soullier and Jacques Tourniaire, whose early travelling circuses introduced the circus to Latin America, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, South Africa, and Russia. Soullier was the first circus owner to introduce Chinese acrobatics to the European circus when he returned from his travels in 1866, and Tourniaire was the first to introduce the performing art to Ranga, where it became extremely popular. After an 1881 merger with
James Anthony Bailey James Anthony Bailey (July 4, 1847 – April 11, 1906), born James Anthony McGinnis, was an American circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clowns, acrobatics, acrobats, trained ...
and James L. Hutchinson's circus and Barnum's death in 1891, his circus travelled to Europe as the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth, where it toured from 1897 to 1902, impressing other circus owners with its large scale, its touring techniques (including the tent and circus train), and its combination of circus acts, a zoological exhibition, and a freak show. This format was adopted by European circuses at the turn of the 20th century. The influence of the American circus brought about a considerable change in the character of the modern circus. In arenas too large for speech to be easily audible, the traditional comic dialogue of the clown assumed a less prominent place than formerly, while the vastly increased wealth of stage properties relegated to the background the old-fashioned equestrian feats, which were replaced by more ambitious acrobatic performances, and by exhibitions of skill, strength, and daring, requiring the employment of immense numbers of performers, and often of complicated and expensive machinery. From the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, travelling circuses were a major form of spectator entertainment in the US and attracted huge attention whenever they arrived in a city. After World War II, the popularity of the circus declined as new forms of entertainment (such as television) arrived and the public's tastes became more sophisticated. From the 1960s onward, circuses attracted growing criticism from animal rights activists. Many circuses went out of business or were forced to merge with other circus companies. Nonetheless, a good number of travelling circuses are still active in various parts of the world, ranging from small family enterprises to three-ring extravaganzas. Other companies found new ways to draw in the public with innovative new approaches to the circus form itself.


Russia

In 1919,
Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of th ...

Lenin
, head of
Soviet Russia The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; rus, links=no, Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика, Rossiyskaya Sovetskaya Federativnaya ...
, expressed a wish for the circus to become "the people's art-form", with facilities and status on par with theatre, opera and ballet. The USSR nationalized Russian circuses. In 1927, the State University of Circus and Variety Arts, better known as the Moscow Circus School, was established; performers were trained using methods developed from the Soviet gymnastics program. When the Moscow State Circus company began international tours in the 1950s, its levels of originality and artistic skill were widely applauded.


China

Circuses from China, drawing on Chinese traditions of
acrobatics Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...

acrobatics
, like the Chinese State Circus are also popular touring acts.


Contemporary circus

Contemporary circus Contemporary circus (also known as new circus, and ''nouveau cirque'' and ''cirque contemporain'' in French language, French-speaking countries) is a genre of performing arts developed in the late 20th century in which a story or theme is conveyed t ...
(originally known as ''cirque nouveau'') is a performing arts movement that originated in the 1970s in Australia, Canada, France, the West Coast of the United States, and the United Kingdom. Contemporary circus combines traditional circus skills and theatrical techniques to convey a story or theme. Compared with the traditional circus, the contemporary genre of circus tends to focus more attention on the overall aesthetic impact, on character and story development, and on the use of
lighting design In theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often ...
, original music, and
costume design Costume design is the creation of clothing for the overall appearance of a character or performer. Costume may refer to the style of dress particular to a nation, a class, or a period. In many cases, it may contribute to the fullness of the arti ...
to convey thematic or narrative content. For aesthetic or economic reasons, contemporary circus productions may sometimes be staged in theatres rather than in large outdoor tents. Music used in the production is often composed exclusively for that production, and aesthetic influences are drawn as much from contemporary culture as from circus history. Animal acts rarely appear in contemporary circus, in contrast to traditional circus, where animal acts have often been a significant part of the entertainment. Early pioneers of the contemporary circus genre included:
Circus Oz Circus Oz is a contemporary circus Contemporary circus (also known as new circus, and ''nouveau cirque'' and ''cirque contemporain'' in French language, French-speaking countries) is a genre of performing arts developed in the late 20th century ...
, forged in Australia in 1977 from SoapBox Circus (1976) and New Circus (1973); the
Pickle Family Circus The Pickle Family Circus was a small Circus (performing art), circus founded in 1974 in San Francisco, California, United States. The circus formed an important part of the renewal of the American circus. They also influenced the creation of Cirque ...
, founded in
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (dis ...

San Francisco
in 1975;
Ra-Ra Zoo Ra-Ra Zoo was an England, English-based new circus theatre company, active (August 1984 - September 1994), a seminal group who created self devised physical theatre performance for theatres using comedy and circus skills. Founded by Sue Broadway, ...
in 1984 in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
;
Nofit State Circus NoFit State Circus is a contemporary circus company based in Cardiff, Wales. Formed in 1986, NoFit State Circus have been a mainstay of new and contemporary circus in the United Kingdom since their inception, and have toured tented and theatrica ...
in 1984 from
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
;
Cirque du Soleil#REDIRECT Cirque du Soleil Cirque du Soleil (, ; "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, , Tio'tia:ke in Mohawk language, Mohawk) is the List of the 100 largest municipalities in Canada by populati ...

Cirque du Soleil
, founded in
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
in 1984;
Cirque Plume Cirque Plume is an internationally renowned contemporary circus company founded in 1984 by Bernard Kudlak in the Franche-Comté region of France. French newspaper ''Le Parisien'' has described Cirque Plume as "the oldest of the New Circuses... It ...
and
ArchaosArchaos (Cirque Archaos) is a French contemporary circus created by Pierrot Bidon in 1986. It began as an alternative, theatrical circus without animals, featuring dangerous stunts like chainsaw juggling, fire breathing, wall of death (motorcycle act ...
from France in 1984 and 1986 respectively. More recent examples include: Cirque Éloize (founded in Quebec in 1993); Sweden's (1995);
Teatro ZinZanni Teatro ZinZanni is a circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clowns, acrobatics, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, dancers, hoopers, tightrope walkers, juggling, jugg ...
(founded in Seattle in 1998); the West African Circus Baobab (late 1990s); and Montreal's Les 7 doigts de la main (founded in 2002). The genre includes other circus troupes such as the Vermont-based
Circus Smirkus Circus Smirkus is a non-profit, award-winning, international youth circus founded in 1987 by Rob Mermin. Based in Greensboro, Vermont, Greensboro, Vermont, the mission of Circus Smirkus is to promote the skills, culture and traditions of the travel ...
(founded in 1987 by
Rob MerminRob Mermin is the founder of the award-winning international touring youth circus Circus Smirkus. Biography Rob Mermin ran off to join the circus in 1969. He clowned with various European circuses including England's Circus Hoffman, Sweden's Cirkus ...
) and Le Cirque Imaginaire (later renamed Le Cirque Invisible, both founded and directed by
Victoria Chaplin Victoria Chaplin (born May 19, 1951) is a British-American circus performer. She is the daughter of film actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, a ...
, daughter of
Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is consider ...

Charlie Chaplin
). The most conspicuous success story in the contemporary genre has been that of
Cirque du Soleil#REDIRECT Cirque du Soleil Cirque du Soleil (, ; "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, , Tio'tia:ke in Mohawk language, Mohawk) is the List of the 100 largest municipalities in Canada by populati ...

Cirque du Soleil
, the Canadian circus company whose estimated annual revenue exceeds US$810 million in 2009, and whose ''cirque nouveau'' shows have been seen by nearly 90 million spectators in over 200 cities on five continents.


Performance

A traditional circus performance is often led by a ringmaster who has a role similar to a
Master of Ceremonies A master of ceremonies, abbreviated MC or emcee, is the official host of a ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication or non-voc ...
. The ringmaster presents performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the show moving. The activity of the circus traditionally takes place within a ring; large circuses may have multiple rings, like the six-ringed
Moscow State Circus The title Moscow State Circus is used for a variety of circuses. Most commonly, it refers to one of the two circus buildings in Moscow, the " Circus Nikulin" (the old circus, featuring animal acts) and the "Bolshoi Circus" (the new circus, featur ...
. A circus often travels with its own band, whose instrumentation in the United States has traditionally included
brass instrument A brass instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object ...
s, drums,
glockenspiel The glockenspiel ( or , ''Glocken'': bells and ''Spiel'': Play) is a percussion A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (percussion), beater including attached or enclosed ...

glockenspiel
, and sometimes the distinctive sound of the
calliope In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature of ...
.


Acts

Common acts include a variety of
acrobatics Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...

acrobatics
,
gymnastics Gymnastics is a sport Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit bet ...

gymnastics
(including tumbling and
trampoline A trampoline is a device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched between a steel frame using many coiled spring (device), springs. Not all trampolines have springs, as the Springfree Trampoline uses glass-reinforced plastic rods. Pe ...

trampoline
), aerial acts (such as
trapeze upright=1.5, Trapeze artists, in lithograph by Calvert Litho. Co., 1890. A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus A circus is a company of performer ...

trapeze
,
aerial silk Aerial silks (also known as aerial contortion, aerial ribbons, aerial tissues, fabric, ribbon, or ''tissu'', depending on personal preference) is a type of performance in which one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics Acrobatics (from An ...

aerial silk
, corde lisse),
contortion Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is a performance art in which performers called contortionists showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility. Contortion acts often accompany acrobatics, Circus (performing art), circus acts, street ...
, stilt-walking, and a variety of other routines.
Juggling Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling Image:Circus-juggling.jpg, 300px, Juggling pair p ...
is one of the most common acts in a circus; the combination of juggling and gymnastics is called equilibristics and includes acts like
plate spinning Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins Plate (dishware), plates, Bowl (vessel), bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off. Plate spinning relies on the gyroscope, gyroscopic effect, in the same way a t ...
and the rolling globe. Acts like these are some of the most common and the most traditional.
Clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Hum ...

Clown
s are common to most circuses and are typically skilled in many circus acts; "clowns getting into the act" is a very familiar theme in any circus. Famous
circus clown Clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor ...
s have included Austin Miles, the Fratellini Family, Rusty Russell,
Emmett Kelly Emmett Leo Kelly (December 9, 1898March 28, 1979) was an American circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clowns, acrobatics, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, danc ...
,
Grock Grock (born Charles Adrien Wettach; January 10, 1880 – July 14, 1959) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type ...
, and
Bill Irwin Billy Thomas Irwin (born April 11, 1950) is an American actor An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; #The term actress, see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the t ...
. Daredevil stunt acts,
freak show and its popular ongoing freak show in August 2008. A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to in popular culture as "freaks of nature". Typical features would be physically unusual Human#Anatomy and physiology, humans, suc ...
s, and sideshow acts are also parts of some circus acts, these activities may include
human cannonball Stephanie Smith, human cannonball at the Royal Melbourne Show, 2005 The human cannonball act is a performance in which a person who acts as the "cannonball" is ejected from a specially designed "cannon". The human cannonball lands on a horizontal ...
, chapeaugraphy, fire eating, Fire breathing, breathing, and Fire dancing, dancing, Impalement arts, knife throwing, Magic (illusion), magic shows, sword swallowing, or Strongman (strength athlete), strongman. Famous sideshow performers include Zip the Pinhead and The Doll Family. A popular sideshow attraction from the early 19th century was the flea circus, where fleas were attached to props and viewed through a Fresnel lens.


Animal acts

A variety of animals have historically been used in acts. While the types of animals used vary from circus to circus, big cats (namely lions, tigers, and leopards), camels, llamas, elephants, zebras, horses, donkeys, birds (like parrots, doves, and cockatoos), sea lions, bears, monkeys, and domestic animals such as cats and dogs are the most common. The earliest involvement of animals in circus was just the display of exotic creatures in a menagerie. Going as far back as the early eighteenth century, exotic animals were transported to North America for display, and menageries were a popular form of entertainment. The first true animals acts in the circus were equestrian acts. Soon elephants and big cats were displayed as well. Isaac A. Van Amburgh entered a cage with several big cats in 1833, and is generally considered to be the first wild animal trainer in American circus history. Mabel Stark was a famous female tiger-tamer.


Controversy and laws

Animal rights groups have documented many cases of Cruelty to animals#Circuses, animal cruelty in the training of performing circus animals. The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) contends that animals in circuses are frequently beaten into submission and that physical abuse has always been the method for training circus animals. It is also alleged that the animals are kept in cages that are too small and are given very little opportunity to walk around outside of their enclosure, thereby violating their right to freedom.


United States

According to PETA, although the US Animal Welfare Act of 1966, Animal Welfare Act does not permit any sort of punishment that puts the animals in discomfort, trainers will still go against this law and use such things as electric rods and bullhooks. According to PETA, during an undercover investigation of Carson & Barnes Circus, video footage was captured showing animal care director Tim Frisco training endangered Asian elephants with electrical shock prods and instructing other trainers to "beat the elephants with a bullhook as hard as they can and sink the sharp metal hook into the elephant's flesh and twist it until they scream in pain". On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen University conducted an investigation into the welfare of circus animals in 2008. The following issues, among others, were found: * 71% of the observed animals had medical problems. * 33% of tigers and lions did not have access to an outdoor enclosure. * Lions spend on average 98% of their time indoors. * An average enclosure for tigers is only 5 m2. * Elephants are shackled in chains for 17 hours a day on average. * Elephants spend on average 10 hours a day showing Stereotypy (non-human), stereotypic behaviour. * Tigers are terrified of fire but are still forced to jump through fire rings. * Since 1990 there have been over 123 cases of lion attacks at circuses. * Animals are trained through discipline. Based on these findings, the researchers called for more stringent regulation regarding the welfare of circus animals. In 2012, the Dutch government announced a ban on the use of wild circus animals. In testimony in U.S. District Court in 2009, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus CEO Kenneth Feld acknowledged that circus elephants are struck behind the ears, under the chin and on their legs with metal tipped prods, called bullhooks. Feld stated that these practices are necessary to protect circus workers. Feld also acknowledged that an elephant trainer was reprimanded for using an electric shock device, known as a hot shot or electric prod, on an elephant, which Feld also stated was appropriate practice. Feld denied that any of these practices harm elephants. In its January 2010 verdict on the case, brought against Feld Entertainment International by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals et al., the Court ruled that evidence against the circus company was "not credible with regard to the allegations". In lieu of a USDA hearing, Feld Entertainment, Inc., Feld Entertainment Inc. (parent of Ringling Bros.) agreed to pay an unprecedented $270,000 fine for violations of the Animal Welfare Act that allegedly occurred between June 2007 and August 2011. A 14-year litigation against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to an end in 2014 when The Humane Society of the United States and a number of other animal rights groups paid a $16 million settlement to Feld Entertainment. However, the circus closed in May 2017 after a 146-year run when it experienced a steep decline in ticket sales a year after it discontinued its elephant act and sent its Pachydermata, pachyderms to a reserve. On 1 February 1992 at the Great American Circus in Palm Bay, Florida, an elephant named Janet (1965 – 1 February 1992) went out of control while giving a ride to a mother, her two children, and three other children. The elephant then stampeded through the circus grounds outside before being shot to death by police. Also, during a Circus International performance in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 20 August 1994, an elephant called Tyke (elephant), Tyke (1974 – 20 August 1994) killed her trainer, Allen Campbell, and severely mauled her groomer, Dallas Beckwith, in front of hundreds of spectators. Tyke then bolted from the arena and ran through the streets of Kakaako for more than thirty minutes. Police fired 86 shots at Tyke, who eventually collapsed from the wounds and died. In December 2018, New Jersey became the first state in the U.S. to ban circuses, carnivals and fairs from featuring elephants, tigers, and other exotic animals.


England

In 1998 in the United Kingdom, a parliamentary working group chaired by MP Roger Gale studied living conditions and treatment of animals in UK circuses. All members of this group agreed that a change in the law was needed to protect circus animals. Gale told the BBC, "It's undignified and the conditions under which they are kept are woefully inadequate—the cages are too small, the environments they live in are not suitable and many of us believe the time has come for that practice to end." The group reported concerns about boredom and stress, and noted that an independent study by a member of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University "found no evidence that circuses contribute to education or conservation." However, in 2007, a different working group under the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, having reviewed information from experts representing both the circus industry and animal welfare, found an absence of "scientific evidence sufficient to demonstrate that travelling circuses are not compatible with meeting the welfare needs of any type of non-domesticated animal presently being used in the United Kingdom." According to that group's report, published in October 2007, "there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or any worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments." A ban prohibiting the use of wild animals in circuses in England was due to be passed in 2015, but Conservative MP Christopher Chope repeatedly blocked the bill under the reasoning that "The EU Membership Costs and Benefits bill should have been called by the clerk before the circuses bill, so I raised a point of order". He explained that the circus bill was "at the bottom of the list" for discussion. The Animal Defenders International non-profit group dubbed this "a huge embarrassment for Britain that 30 other nations have taken action before us on this simple and popular measure". On 1 May 2019 Environmental Secretary Michael Gove announced a new Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. The Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 came into effect on 20 January 2020.


Wales

A Act of the Senedd, bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
was introduced in June 2019, and subsequently passed by the Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament, Welsh Parliament on 15 July 2020. Over 6,500 responses were made by the people of Wales, to the public consultation on the draft Bill, 97% of which supported the ban.


Scotland

The use of wild animals in travelling circuses has been banned in Scotland. The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force on 28 May 2018.


Worldwide

There are nationwide bans on using some if not all animals in circuses in Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and the United States have locally restricted or banned the use of animals in entertainment. In response to a growing popular concern about the use of animals in entertainment, animal-free circuses are becoming more common around the world. In 2009, Bolivia passed legislation banning the use of any animals, wild or domestic, in circuses. The law states that circuses "constitute an act of cruelty." Circus operators had one year from the bill's passage on 1 July 2009 to comply. In 2018 in Germany, an accident with an elephant during a circus performance, prompted calls to ban animal performances in circuses. PETA called the German politicians to outlaw the keeping of animals for circuses. A survey confirmed that on average, wild animals spend around 99 to 91 percent of their time in cages, wagons, or enclosure due to transportation. This causes a huge amount of distress to animals and leads to excessive amounts of drooling. City ordinances banning performances by wild animals have been enacted in
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (dis ...

San Francisco
(2015), Los Angeles (2017), and New York City (2017). These bans include movies, TV shows, ads, petting zoos, or any showcase of animals where they are in direct contact with the audience. The reason being the high chance of the animals to harm someone in the audience. This is due to their instincts which humans cannot control. Greece became the first European country to ban any animal from performing in any circus in its territory in February 2012, following a campaign by Animal Defenders International and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF). On 6 June 2015, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe adopted a position paper in which it recommends the prohibition of the use of Wildlife, wild animals in travelling circuses. Despite the contemporary circus' shift toward more theatrical techniques and its emphasis on human rather than animal performance, traditional circus companies still exist alongside the new movement. Numerous circuses continue to maintain animal performers, including UniverSoul Circus and the Big Apple Circus from the United States, Circus Krone from Munich, Circus Royale and Lennon Bros Circus from Australia, Vazquez Hermanos Circus, Circo Atayde Hermanos, and Hermanos Mayaror Circus from Mexico, and Moira Orfei Circus from Italy, to name just a few.


Buildings

In some towns, there are circus buildings where regular performances are held. The best known are: * Blackpool Tower Circus * Budapest Circus * Circus Krone Building in Munich * Cirque d'hiver, Cirque d'hiver, Paris * Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens#Main sights, Amiens * Hippodrome Circus, Great Yarmouth * La Tohu in Montreal * Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow * Shanghai Circus World in Shanghai * Turkmen State Circus in Ashgabat * Riga Circus in Riga * Belarus State Circus in Minsk * "Globus" Circus in Bucharest In other countries, purpose-built circus buildings still exist which are no longer used as circuses, or are used for circus only occasionally among a wider programme of events; for example, the Circus Building, Copenhagen, Cirkusbygningen (The Circus Building) in Copenhagen, Denmark, Cirkus (Stockholm), Cirkus in Stockholm, Sweden, or Carré Theatre in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


International awards

The International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo has been held in Monaco since 1974 and was the first of many international awards for circus performers.


In art, music, films, plays and books

Erich Kästner's children's books ' 1963 (''The Little Man'') and ' 1967 (''The Little Man and the Little Miss'') are largely set in a circus where the orphaned young protagonist grows up as a ward of the show's Magic (illusion), magician. The atmosphere of the circus has served as a dramatic setting for many musicians. The most famous circus theme song is called "Entrance of the Gladiators", and was composed in 1904 by Julius Fučík (composer), Julius Fučík. Other circus music includes "El Caballero", "Quality Plus", "Sunnyland Waltzes", "The Storming of El Caney", "Pahjamah", "Bull Trombone", "Big Time Boogie", "Royal Bridesmaid March", "The Baby Elephant Walk", "Liberty Bell March", "Java", Strauss's "Radetsky March", and "Pageant of Progress". A poster for
Pablo Fanque Pablo Fanque (born William Darby; 30 March 1810 – 4 May 1871) was a British equestrian performer and circus proprietor, the first recorded non-white British circus owner in United Kingdom, Britain. His circus was popular in Victorian Britain for ...

Pablo Fanque
's Circus Royal, one of the most popular circuses of Victorian England, inspired John Lennon to write Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! on The Beatles' album, ''Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band''. The song title refers to William Kite, a well-known circus performer in the 19th century. Producer George Martin and EMI engineers created the song's fairground atmosphere by assembling a sound collage of collected recordings of calliopes and fairground organs, which they cut into strips of various lengths, threw into a box, and then mixed up and edited together randomly, creating a long loop which was mixed into the final production.Turner, Steve, "A Hard Day's Write." HarperCollins(1984). Another traditional circus song is the John Philip Sousa march "Stars and Stripes Forever", which is played only to alert circus performers of an emergency. Plays set in a circus include the 1896 musical ''The Circus Girl'' by Lionel Monckton, Polly of the Circus (1907 play), ''Polly of the Circus'' written in 1907 by Margaret Mayo (playwright), Margaret Mayo, ''He Who Gets Slapped'' written by Russian Leonid Andreyev 1915 and later adapted into one of the first circus films, ''Katharina Knie'' written in 1928 by Carl Zuckmayer and adapted for the English stage in 1932 as ''Caravan'' by playwright Cecily Hamilton, the revue ''Big Top'' written by Herbert Farjeon in 1942, ''Top of the Ladder'' written by Tyrone Guthrie in 1950, ''Stop the World, I Want to Get Off'' written by Anthony Newley in 1961, and ''Barnum (musical), Barnum'' with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics and book by Mark Bramble, ''Roustabout: The Great Circus Train Wreck'' written by Jay Torrence in 2006. Following World War I, circus films became popular. In 1924 ''He Who Gets Slapped (film), He Who Gets Slapped'' was the first film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM; in 1925 ''Sally of the Sawdust'' (remade 1930), ''Variety (1925 film), Variety'', and ''Vaudeville'' were produced, followed by ''The Devil's Circus'' in 1926 and ''The Circus (1928 film), The Circus'' starring
Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is consider ...

Charlie Chaplin
, ''Circus Rookies'', ''4 Devils''; and ''Laugh Clown Laugh'' in 1928. German film ''Salto Mortale (1931 German film), Salto Mortale'' about trapeze artists was released in 1931 and remade in the United States and released as ''Trapeze (film), Trapeze'' starring Burt Lancaster in 1956; in 1932 ''Freaks (1932 film), Freaks'' was released; ''Charlie Chan at the Circus'', ''Circus'' (USSR) and ''The Three Maxiums'' were released in 1936 and ''At the Circus'' starring the Marx Brothers and ''You Can't Cheat an Honest Man'' in 1939. Circus films continued to be popular during the Second World War; films from this era included ''The Great Profile'' starring John Barrymore (1940), the animated Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney film ''Dumbo'' (1941), ''Road Show'' (1941), ''The Wagons Roll at Night'' (1941) and ''Captive Wild Woman'' (1943). ''Tromba'', a film about a tiger trainer, was released in 1948. In 1952 Cecil B. de Mille's Oscar-winning film ''The Greatest Show on Earth (film), The Greatest Show on Earth'' was first shown. Released in 1953 were ''Man on a Tightrope'' and Ingmar Bergman's ''Gycklarnas afton'' (released as ''Sawdust and Tinsel'' in the United States); these were followed by ''Life Is a Circus''; ''Ring of Fear''; ''3 Ring Circus'' (1954) and ''La Strada'' (1954), an Oscar-winning film by Federico Fellini about a girl who is sold to a circus strongman. Fellini made a second film set in the circus called ''The Clowns (film), The Clowns'' in 1970. Films about the circus made since 1959 include Disney's ''Toby Tyler'' (1960), the B-movie ''Circus of Horrors'' (also in 1960); the musical film ''Billy Rose's Jumbo (film), Billy Rose's Jumbo'' (1962); ''A Tiger Walks'', a Disney film about a tiger that escapes from the circus; and ''Circus World (film), Circus World'' (1964), starring John Wayne. Mera Naam Joker (1970) a Hindi drama film directed by Raj Kapoor which was about a clown who must make his audience laugh at the cost of his own sorrows. In the film ''Jungle Emperor Leo'' (1997), Leo's son Lune is captured and placed in a circus, which burns down when a tiger knocks down a ring of fire while jumping through it. ''The Greatest Showman'', a musical film loosely based on the life of
P. T. Barnum Phineas Taylor Barnum (; July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and politician, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and founding the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Barnum & Bailey Circus (1871 ...
, was released in 2017. The TV series ''Circus Humberto'', based on the novel by Eduard Bass, follows the history of the circus family Humberto between 1826 and 1924. The setting of the HBO television series ''Carnivàle'', which ran from 2003 to 2005, is also largely set in a travelling circus. The circus has also inspired many writers. Numerous books, both non-fiction and fiction, have been published about circus life. Notable examples of circus-based fiction include ''Circus Humberto'' by Eduard Bass, ''Cirque du Freak'' by Darren Shan, and ''Spangle (novel), Spangle'' by Gary Jennings (author), Gary Jennings. The novel ''Water for Elephants'' by Sara Gruen tells the fictional tale of a circus veterinarian and was made into a Water for Elephants (film), movie with the same title, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Circus is the central theme in comic books of Super Commando Dhruva, an Indian comic book superhero. According to this series, Dhruva was born and brought up in a fictional Indian circus called Jupiter Circus. When a rival circus burnt down Jupiter Circus, killing everyone in it, including Dhruva's parents, Dhruva vowed to become a crime fighter. A circus-based television series called ''Circus (TV series), Circus'' was also telecast in India in 1989 on DD National, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Shahrukh Khan as the lead actor.


See also

*Animal training *Chautauqua, tent shows that preceded American circus *Circus clown *Clown alley *Circus skills *
Cirque du Soleil#REDIRECT Cirque du Soleil Cirque du Soleil (, ; "Circus of the Sun" or "Sun Circus") is a Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, , Tio'tia:ke in Mohawk language, Mohawk) is the List of the 100 largest municipalities in Canada by populati ...

Cirque du Soleil
*
Clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Hum ...

Clown
*
Contemporary circus Contemporary circus (also known as new circus, and ''nouveau cirque'' and ''cirque contemporain'' in French language, French-speaking countries) is a genre of performing arts developed in the late 20th century in which a story or theme is conveyed t ...
*Dog and pony show *Flea circus *History of Indian circus *International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo *Traveling carnival *Lion taming *List of circuses and circus owners


Notes


References

*Assael, Brenda, "Circus and Victorian Society", 2005, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville *Rupert Croft-Cooke, Croft-Cooke, Rupert and Cotes, Peter. 1976. ''Circus: A World History''. Elek. London *Johnson, William M. 1990.
The Rose-Tinted Menagerie
'. Iridescent Publishing *Nance, Susan. ''Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus'' (Johns Hopkins University Press; 2013) 304 pages; elephants as "actors" or creatures of agency in the American circus from 1800 to 1940. *Speaight, George, "A History of the Circus" 1980, The Tantivy Press, London *Stoddart, Helen, "Rings of Desire: Circus History and Representation", 2000, Manchester University Press, Manchester * *Tertullian, Septimus Florens. De spectaculis: Latin text with English translation by Terrot Reaveley Glover. Loeb Classical Library 1931.


Further reading

* * * Childress, Micah D. ''Circus Life: Performing and Laboring Under America's Big Top Shows, 1830-1920'' (University of Tennessee Press, 2018), Pp. 24
online review
*—provides an overview of "low-yield research" into the history of the American Circus as covered in "ragcontent newspapers [and] magazines [such as] ''White Tops''" * Simon, Linda. ''The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus'' (Reaktion Books, distributed by University of Chicago Press; 2014); 296 pages;


External links

*
Dictionary of Circus Slang (American and British/European)History of American Circuses and SideshowsCircopedia
*National Museum of Performing Arts, Theatre Museum.
Circus Guided Tour
'
The Philip Astley Project
{{Authority control Circuses, Performing arts, Circus Animal keeping by humans Articles containing video clips