Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Circus :: essays research papers

A circus is an arena for acrobatic exhibitions and animal shows. Usually circular and surrounded by tiers of seats for spectators, a circus may be in the open air but is usually housed in a permanent building or sheltered by a tent. The term circus is also applied to the performance itself and to the troupe of performers. The entertainment offered at a circus generally consists of displays of horsemanship; exhibitions by gymnasts, aerialists, wild-animal trainers, and performing animals; and comic pantomime by clowns. The first modern circus was staged in London in 1768 by Philip Astley, a former sergeant major in the English cavalry, who performed as a trick rider. Beginning with a visit to Paris in 1772, Astley introduced the circus in cities throughout continental Europe and was responsible for establishing permanent circuses in a number of European countries as well as in England. A circus was first presented in Russia in 1793 at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. By the early 19th century several permanently based circuses were located in many larger European cities. In addition, small traveling shows moved from town to town in caravans of covered wagons in which the performers lived. The traveling shows were usually simple affairs, featuring a fiddler or two, a juggler, a ropedancer, and a few acrobats. In the early circuses such performers gave their shows in open spaces and took up a collection for pay; later, the performers used an enclosed area and began to charge admission. By contrast, the permanently-based circuses of Europe staged elaborate shows. In the earlier part of the 19th century a main feature of the permanent circus program was the presentation of dramas that included displays of horsemanship. The circus was introduced in the United States by John Bill Ricketts, an English equestrian who opened a show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1792 and staged subsequent circuses in New York City and Boston, Massachusetts. President George Washington reportedly attended a Ricketts circus and sold the company a horse in 1797. The Ricketts circus remained in existence, with several name changes, through the first decade of the 19th century. Some of the outstanding companies in the early history of American circuses were the Mount Pitt circus and the troupes of the American animal tamer Isaac Van Amburgh, the American chemist and inventor Gilbert Spaulding, and the American clown Dan Rice. Throughout the 19th century the circus evolved in programming and

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