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Circus - Circus - Acts of skill: In the 20th century the Wallendas, a family of high-wire artists originally from Germany who debuted with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show in 1928, helped set the standard for acts of skill. Following English Joseph Grimaldi, Fox popularised the Humpty Dumpty stories throughout the land in the first half of the 19th century in America. In the 20th century the Wallendas, a family of high-wire artists originally from Germany who debuted with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show in 1928, helped set the standard for acts of skill. "History of Clowning." March 5, 2015. [citation needed]. "History of Aerialism, Acrobats & Cirque Performance." Is the 'Lovely Assistant' the Real Magician? Barnum was perhaps the major influence in sideshow development, having demonstrated their popularity as an attraction at his American Museum. Unfortunately, this practice was followed by many of his American successors. Clowns have always been an integral part of the circus, offering a source of amusement for patrons and providing relief from the array of animal acts and performances by acrobats and novelty artistes. The Heyoka plays the role of a backwards clown, doing everything in reverse. (April 20, 2015) http://www.history-magazine.com/circuses.html, Glenroy, John H. "Ins and Outs of Circus Life." In a circus context, clown shows are typically made up of some combination of entrées, side dishes, clown stops, track gags, gags and bits. Belling's Auguste character was further popularized by Nicolai Poliakoff's Coco in the 1920s to 1930s. The augustes are the ones who get the pies in the face, are squirted with water, are knocked down on their backside, sit accidentally in wet paint, or have their trousers ripped off. Circus acts have always crossed national borders and, traditionally, certain nationalities tend to dominate specific areas of circus performance. In 1982 Miguel Vasquez became the first person to do a quadruple somersault from bar to catcher in a public performance. Although Barnum had added such an exhibition to his circus as early as 1876, the credit for establishing the Wild West show as a separate entertainment goes to the former cavalry scout William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody and his partner W.F. At the age of 14 he began to practice as a contortionist and at 16 he joined his first circus. "Circus." Two Americans, Bill Irwin and David Shiner, are perhaps the best-known among New Vaudeville clowns; their talents were featured in the Broadway production Fool Moon (1994). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Naira Stunning aerial display on the silk from Argentina. "Short History of the Circus." In addition to his 'clowning' talents, he was an animal trainer, songwriter, commentator, political humorist, strong man, actor, director, producer, dancer, and politician. Many film stars were also associated with them, including Tom Mix and Will Rogers. The English word clown was first recorded c. 1560 (as clowne, cloyne) in the generic meaning rustic, boor, peasant. In the comedic partnership of Abbott and Costello, Bud Abbot would have been the classic whiteface and Lou Costello the comedy whiteface or Auguste.[18]. Grimaldi never performed in a circus ring, but spent most of his life performing in full-length pantomimes. The famous riflewoman Annie Oakley, “Little Sure Shot,” gained her fame as a star of Wild West shows. Clowns, artists, acrobats -- our Reno circus shows have them all! Typically, these shows included human “abnormalities,” such as “fat ladies,” giants and dwarfs, “armless wonders,” and “four-legged girls”; illusions and magicians; automatons and curious inventions; and various works of art, among them Hiram Powers’s titillating nude statue The Greek Slave (c. 1847). Ringling’s announcement in 2015 that it would phase out elephant acts within three years ironically reduced ticket sales even further, and in 2017 the circus ceased operations permanently. The now-classical features of the clown character were developed in the early 1800s by Joseph Grimaldi, who played Clown in Charles Dibdin's 1800 pantomime Peter Wilkins: or Harlequin in the Flying World at Sadler's Wells Theatre, where Grimaldi built the character up into the central figure of the harlequinade.[8][9]. In modern times, when whitefaces perform with other clowns, they usually function as the straight man, "top banana" or the leader of the group. Posing as a drunken sailor, Pentland emerged from the stands offering to ride an ornery horse, and was greeted with various hoots and cheers. Among the more well-known clown stunts are: squirting flower; the too-many-clowns-coming-out-of-a-tiny-car stunt; doing just about anything with a rubber chicken, tripping over one's own feet (or an air pocket or imaginary blemish in the floor), or riding any number of ridiculous vehicles or clown bikes. Sideshows became a part of the circus in the United States in the late 19th century, although they did not gain much popularity elsewhere. The character clown makeup is a comic slant on the standard human face. "The Top 10 Outstanding Contemporary Sideshow Freak Performers." Sadly, he was removed from the stage during his last performance, and taken to an insane asylum where he died three years later, possibly as a result of poisoning from his lead-based white make-up. He went on to perform in other circuses, in vaudeville and was featured (sometimes partnered with Marceline Orbes) in the massive shows at the New York Hippodrome. Circopedia. Other inspiring performers included the petite Lillian Leitzel, born in Bohemia of a German circus family, who could pivot 100 times on her shoulder socket, spinning from a rope like a pinwheel in a maneuver called the “plange” (a stunt that led to her tragic death at the peak of her career in 1931, when her apparatus broke); the Australian-born Con Colleano, the “Toreador of the Tight Wire,” whose dance on the wire to a Spanish cadence thrilled American audiences from 1925 until his retirement in 1959; Antoinette Concello, who became the first woman to perform the triple somersault on the trapeze in 1937; and Dolly Jacobs, who began her career in 1976, performing on the Roman rings for the Ringling brothers and Big Apple circuses, and who was the daughter of famous Auguste clown Lou Jacobs. Circuses in the United States were sometimes attached to “Wild West shows,” which emphasized displays and events of the Old West. Born in New York City, Dan Rice gained 19th century fame with many talents, most of which involved him clowning in circuses. Appropriate to the character, the Auguste can be dressed in either well-fitted garb or a costume that does not fit – oversize or too small, either is appropriate. Lavish sets and athletic clowning were expected, along with elaborate ballets. Many of them can tumble, juggle and fire-eat and at least one will be able to ride a unicycle. (April 20, 2015) http://www.humourfoundation.com.au/resources/history-of-clowning.html, Victoria and Albert Museum. The Humour Foundation. Their makeup starts with a flesh tone base and may make use of anything from glasses, mustaches and beards to freckles, warts, big ears or strange haircuts. Oakley returned to the Barnum & Bailey Circus for four seasons (1903–07), where he reportedly earned up to $1,000 a week. He aspires to be more like the white clown and often mimics everything the white clown does to try to gain approval. The comedy that clowns perform is usually in the role of a fool whose everyday actions and tasks become extraordinary—and for whom the ridiculous, for a short while, becomes ordinary. Bold colors, large prints or patterns, and suspenders often characterize Auguste costumes. Red Skelton's Dodo the Clown in The Clown (1953), depicts the circus clown as a tragicomic stock character, "a funny man with a drinking problem". He was also one of the main models for "Uncle Sam". His white face character became an important part of popular American imagery, being used in advertisements and children's books long after his death. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. His first show was Andrew MacDonald's Circus, but in 1897 he joined the Ringling Bros. Performances included not only equestrian exhibitions, but clowns and music and later rope walkers were added. [16] The two types are also distinguished as the sad clown (blanc) and happy clown (Auguste).[17].

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