News Archive

CELEBRATE HIGH FLYING CIRCUS WOMEN

ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Circus250 launches Women in Circus film

 

Oh, she floats through the air with the greatest of ease,

This daring young girl on the flying trapeze

 

On Thursday 8 March Circus250 launches Women in Circus, a short film on female circus artistes past and present. Watch the film here:

Women in Circus from Kevin Toolis on Vimeo.

A unique soundtrack, rewriting the famous 19th century popular song The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, accompanies the film, putting women back in the spotlight on the bar, highwire, aerial hoop, straps, silks, corde lisse …

Women in Circus presents an extraordinary cast of historic and contemporary women, from 19th century tightrope walkers to today’s ringmistresses. It features, in live performance, the most daring Yasmine Smart, the most astonishing Nell Gifford, the most talented Rebecca Truman, the most clever Dr Dea Birkett and the one and only Professor Vanessa Toulmin.

Join our Women in Circus International Women’s Day celebrations:

Circus women have always been powerful – physically, emotionally, financially. On International Women’s Day, Circus250 celebrates Women in Circus with a widespread social media campaign. Watch out for these hashtags and join in with your own women in circus images, anecdotes and stories –

#WomeninCircus    #Circus250    #IWD2018

Above: Fossett Sisters acrobats, Fidget Feet’s Aisling ní Cheallaigh, ‘Lion Queen’ Ellen Chapman

 

Thanks to the University of Sheffield for funding Women in Circus.

Thanks to National Fairground and Circus Archive for use of historic images.

 

TEN FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT CIRCUS WOMEN

  • Women make up the majority of circus performers in UK, but you can still count on one hand the number of female clowns appearing in circus rings.

  • The art of the Strong Woman is enjoying a revival. From Abergavenny preacher’s daughter Kate Williams, who performed as Vulcana in early 20th century, to today’s Heavy Duty Dame Aoife Raleigh and Strong Woman Charmaine Childs, they’ve shifted from lifting weights to lifting men.

  • On 10 April 1877, teenage girl Zazel became the first Human Cannonball, aged 14. Still considered one of the most dangerous acts, over 30 human cannonballs have died during the performance of this stunt.

  • The three Cottle sisters – Sarah, April, Polly – set up Cottle Sisters Circus and continue to tour with their father, circus impresario Gerry Cottle.

  • The first recorded female ringmaster in the UK was Yasmine Smart, granddaughter of Billy Smart. There are now many ringmistresses, including Nell Gifford who founded her own Giffords Circus.

  • Founder of modern circus Philip Astley’s wife Patty performed alongside her husband in the first circus in the centre of London. A talented trick rider, her speciality act was riding around the ring smothered in a swarm of bees.

  • ‘Dona’ is ‘woman’ in Polari – the language traditionally spoken in the circus community.

  • Degas’s famous 1879 Painting Miss LaLa at the Cirque Fernando depicts real life 19th century circus artiste Miss LaLa, a black French woman.

  • There are many female-led circus companies working in UK today, including Upswing, Mimbre and Crying Out Loud.

  • One of Britain’s two Higher Education circus schools, the National Centre for Circus Arts, is run by a woman. But female circus directors are still rare.

 

For interviews, images and copies of the film

email bigtop@circus250.org

Circus250 is the body co-ordinating over 200 events happening throughout 2018 to celebrate 250 years of circus.

250 years ago this year, showman, entrepreneur and equestrian Philip Astley drew out a ring on an abandoned patch of land in London’s Waterloo, and went on to gather together a series of astounding physical acts – bareback riders, jugglers, acrobats, clowns, strong men. This was the world’s very first circus. Every circus, anywhere in the world, began at this moment in 1768.

All those featuring in Women in Circus are Circus250 partners.

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#FirstDayOfCircus

All over the UK on 9th January, circus took centre stage to celebrate its 250th anniversary! 250 years since the art-form was first born – when Philip Astley, the father of modern circus – first leapt into showbusiness with his own ring of entertainments near Waterloo in London in 1768. Now circus and its descendants have spread far and wide, and you can see just how far using hashtag #CircusEverywhere.

Natasha Rushbrook performing ‘Handstand for Hope’ underneath the Natural History Museum’s blue whale, Hope, as part of the joint birthday celebrations with the Creative Industries Federation.
The Circus250 logo, designed by Sir Peter Blake, lights up Norwich castle in the middle of one of the year’s Cities Of Circus.
In Bristol, another of the 2018 Cities of Circus, Eilidh Hoop and Chris Clayton perform on the We The Curious icerink, where a different circus photo will be projected for each of the next 250 days.

What’s happening in 2018 to celebrate Circus250?

Sensational circus events will be taking place across the UK throughout 2018, focused around the Six Cities of Circus.

These Six Cities of Circus – Bristol, Blackpool, Norwich & Great Yarmouth, Newcastle-under-Lyme, London, and Belfast & Derry – will glitter with bedazzling shows, amazing exhibitions, remarkable festivals and breath-taking events. Contemporary and traditional circuses, museums, theatres and archives will celebrate the 250th anniversary of this spectacular born-in-Britain artform.

Sir Tony Robinson, actor, historian, broadcaster and Circus250 Champion, says, ‘It’s wonderful to see 250 years of circus being celebrated UK wide in 2018, including in my own city of City of Circus – Bristol. Circus doesn’t only happen in the ring. Actors like me are influenced by circus, alongside artists, filmmakers, comedians, mime artists and writers. It has a proud past, vibrant present, and, I’m certain, a fabulous future. It’s also huge fun. From Bristol to Blackpool and Belfast, we’re going to gasp, cry, laugh, whoop and be startled at 100s of events. Circus250 in 2018 isn’t only  going to be the greatest show, it’s going to be the best fun.’

In Bristol, home to more circus companies than any other British city:

The Royal West of England Academy Circus250 exhibition ‘Sawdust and Sequins’ opens in March – an extraordinary collection of contemporary circus-inspired art, accompanied by performance from Bristol circus school Circomedia.

In Norwich, birthplace of famous 19th century black circus proprietor Pablo Fanque, and Great Yarmouth, home to the Hippodrome, Britain’s only surviving complete circus building:

The Lord Mayor’s Celebrations features a circus parade with life-sized elephant puppets winding through the streets in July and ‘Famished’, the new show by Norwich-based Lost in Translation, opens. The Hippodrome is producing four world class circus shows, with its Summer Spectacular themed around the Circus250 celebrations. Its backstage museum is open throughout the year.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme, birthplace of Philip Astley:

NoFit State circus premieres their new in-the-ring show ‘Lexicon’ under their big top in March and ‘Astley’s Astounding Adventures’ – specially commissioned for Circus250 year – opens at New Vic Theatre in July. The Philip Astley Project will host a series of events and talks about circus’s founding father.

In Blackpool, home of the Blackpool Tower Circus staging shows since 1894:

The town comes alive with circus celebrations, from the traditional Tower Circus which starts at Easter to the cutting edge Grundy Gallery.

In Derry and Belfast where, throughout the Troubles, circus schools were places where the two communities met to create great work:

Derry’s flagship FestivalCarnival of Colours will celebrate vintage circus and Belfast’s own Tumble Circus will be performing in the big top.

 

Circus250 is the Community Interest Company coordinating the celebration of 250 years of circus in 2018. (Think Shakespeare400, but with a few feathers and a lot of fun.)

Full resolution images of Lost in Translation performing in front of Houses of Parliament, just yards from the site of the world’s very

first circus, available here bit.ly/2eK0BqN

 

INTERVIEWS AND  IMAGES OF CIRCUS IN SIX CITIES and CIRCUS250 LOGO AVAILABLE from ringmaster@circus250.org 07771 994496

 

@circus250   www.circus250.org

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UK LIGHTS UP TO CELEBRATE FIRST DAY OF CIRCUS 250 YEARS AGO

Photo opportunity Tuesday 9th January

#Circus250 Sir Peter Blake logo will be projected on to significant buildings throughout the country

The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome lights up to celebrate 250 years since circus was born

On 9th January 1768, the equestrian, entrepreneur and showman Philip Astley drew out a ring and went on to fill it with astonishing acts – tumblers, horses, acrobats, jugglers, clowns. He created the first circus. Every circus, anywhere in the world, began at that moment.

To mark 250 years on the day since the birth of circus, the UK’s Cities of Circus – Bristol, Blackpool, Norwich & Great Yarmouth, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Belfast & Derry – are each projecting the Sir Peter Blake #Circus250 logo on to a significant building on Tuesday 9th January:

Here’s where and when:

Blackpool Tower Building – 4pm to 7pm

Derry Walls, Opposite Guildhall Square, Derry –  from 6pm

Hippodrome Great Yarmouth – Britain’s last surviving total circus building – from 5pm.

Norwich Castle in the city centre, clearly visible from Castle Meadow, Norwich Market and City Hall – 4pm to 10pm

Bristol, We The Curious,  Anchor Road, Harbourside – 11am

Newcastle-under-Lyme, The Guildhall, High Street – from 4.30pm

 

Natasha Rushbrook performing in Lost In Translation’s ‘Hotel Paradiso’

In London, there’s a special circus performance at the Creative Industries Federation’ third anniversary celebration in the Natural History Museum at 7pm on Tuesday 9 January, attended by politicians, arts and cultural leaders, artists and leading lights from across the creative sector.  Performances under the blue whale include circus strong woman Aoife Raleigh (aka The Heavy Duty Dame), and leading contemporary circus company Lost in Translation presenting Natasha Rushbrook performing “Handstand of Hope”. Students from Bradford College’s Special Effects department present a parade of their fantastical circus characters, from lion ringmasters to imaginary beasts, feathered hoola hoop artistes to fairy popcorn sellers.

Follow #firstdayofcircus and #Circus250

@Circus250

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UK’s Six Cities of Circus revealed

UK’s Six Cities of Circus – the places with the most significant circus heritage and the best of today’s circus activity – have been revealed for the 250th anniversary of the very first circus.

In 1768, in the heart of London, entrepreneur and showman Philip Astley drew out a ring and began filling it with astonishing acts – horses, tumblers, rope-dancers, jugglers, clowns. Every circus, anywhere in the world, began at that moment. (Check out this video introduction from The Philip Astley Project!).

Sensational circus events will be taking place across the UK throughout 2018, focused around the Six Cities of Circus.

These Six Cities – Bristol, Blackpool, Norwich and Great Yarmouth, Newcastle-under-Lyme, London, and Belfast – will glitter with bedazzling shows, amazing exhibitions, remarkable festivals and breath-taking events. Classical and contemporary circuses, museums, theatres and archives will celebrate the 250th anniversary of this spectacular born-in-Britain artform.

Dea Birkett, Ringmaster at Circus250, says, ‘Circus250 celebrates the past but looks to the future. Over the last 250 years, circus – the original pop up – has continually evolved and reinvented itself. Each of our Six Cities of Circus demonstrates, through their fabulous histories and awe-inspiring current circus, just how enduring and innovative circus is.

World-renowned British artist Sir Peter Blake has designed the Circus250 logo so all participating events are instantly recognizable as part of the UK-wide celebrations.

Some of the events to expect from the Six Cities of Circus:

In Bristol, home to more circus companies than any other British city…

The Royal West of England Academy Circus250 exhibition ‘Sawdust and Sequins’ opens in March – an extraordinary collection of contemporary circus-inspired art, accompanied by performance from Bristol circus school Circomedia.

In Norwich, birthplace of famous 19th century black circus proprietor Pablo Fanque, and Great Yarmouth, home to the Hippodrome, Britain’s only surviving complete circus building

The Lord Mayor’s Celebrations feature a circus parade with life-sized elephant puppets winding through the streets in July and ‘Famished’, the new show by Norwich-based Lost in Translation, opens.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme, birthplace of Philip Astley…

NoFit State Circus premiere their new in-the-ring show ‘Lexicon’ under their big top in March and ‘Astley’s Astounding Adventures’ – specially commissioned for Circus250 year – opens at New Vic Theatre in July.

In London, city of the very first circus near Waterloo…

CircusFest – the Roundhouse’s month-long celebration of contemporary circus – kicks off in April. The V&A is one of many major London museums joining in the celebrations with a Friday Late ‘Circus – Past, Present and Future’.

In Blackpool, home of The Blackpool Tower Circus, staging shows since 1894…

The town comes alive with circus celebrations, from the traditions of the Tower Circus to the cutting edge Grundy Art Gallery.

In Belfast, throughout the Troubles, circus schools were places where the two communities met to create great work…

International award-winning Tumble Circus’s Christmas Show closes the Circus250 celebratory year in Belfast’s Writers Square.

 

 

Circus250 is the Community Interest Company coordinating the celebration of 250 years of circus in 2018. (Think Shakespeare400, topped with a few feathers and a lot of fun.)

IMAGES OF CIRCUS IN SIX CITIES and CIRCUS250 logo AVAILABLE from ringmaster@circus250.org

Further full resolution images of Lost in Translation performing in front of Houses of Parliament, just yards from the site of the world’s very first circus, available here bit.ly/2eK0BqN

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Help make Circus250 loud and proud for circus in 2018

We’re launching 50 for Circus250 – a one off £50 donation which will enable the Circus250 website to expand and include listings of all the remarkable events and performances you’re making in 2018. If every one of you fabulous circus and circus-inspired people gave just £50, a Circus250 2018 listings website would be fully funded for this significant anniversary year.

To give 50 for Circus250, just click on this link http://easydonate.org/RING001

In return for your 50 for Circus250 support, you’ll get:

·      A direct click through to your own website from your logo on Circus250 website.

·       Entry to prize draw for stunning Irregular Choice shoes (worth £110) “Easy Trapeezy“, the perfect footwear for Circus250– innovative, inspirational, fun. Hurry! The draw will be made on 12 November – 159 years after the first ever flying trapeze.

The Economist features Circus250 as one of ten top trends for 2018

The Economist magazine is featuring Circus250 as one of the top ten trends in their 2018 Yearbook (rivalling Putin, Trump and cyber hacking) with this fabulous accompanying film:

I loved the film– what a brilliant job Circus250 is doing.’ Ron Beadle, Visiting Professor, National Centre for Circus Arts

Best four minutes of your day right here, bigging up circus’ Matt Teller, critic

In other press – an hour-long documentary on BBC World Service on Circus in America, presented by Dea Birkett of Circus250, will be broadcast on 16 December 2017.

 

CIRCUS250 LOGO NOW AVAILABLE

We’re delighted to let you know our exclusive Sir Peter Blake designed logo is now available. It comes in many different versions so you can choose the one that best works for you.

The logo is free to use for all our partners. To become a partner, just send your name and logo to bigtop@circus250.org. We will send you the Circus250 logo and your name and your logo will be added to our website.


Want to sponsor a #Circus250 newsletter?

Our lively bi-monthly newsletter goes to over 900 professionals in the wide world of circus. For just £99, you can sponsor our newsletters with your own header and footer, drawing attention to your 2018 offer. Get in touch bigtop@circus250.org

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Circus250 announced in circus stunt in front of Houses of Parliament

Image ©Licensed to i-Images Picture Agency. 25/07/2017. London, United Kingdom. Circus250 - Celebrating 250 years of Circus. Acrobats from the group Lost in Translation perform a stunt in front of the Houses of Parliament in London for Circus250. The display is to draw attention to the 250th year since a circus was held for the first time, at a spot near this location. Picture by Pete Maclaine / i-Images
Acrobats from the group Lost in Translation perform a stunt in front of the Houses of Parliament to draw attention to the 250th year since a circus was held for the first time, at a spot near this location. IMAGE: Pete Maclaine, ©Licensed to i-Images Picture Agency
Parliament is often described as a circus. But MP’s antics were outshone today [25 July] in an astounding acrobatic act by internationally renowned circus company Lost in Translation, announcing #Circus250 – the year-long nationwide festival marking 250 years of circus in 2018.
The exclusive Sir Peter Blake #Circus250 logo for the anniversary year – a stunning work of art showing a historic female aerialist supporting a contemporary circus performer – was also revealed.
The eye-catching stunt took place by the very spot on London’s SouthBank where in 1768, retired cavalryman, showman and entrepreneur Philip Astley drew out a ring and filled it with astonishing acts. Every circus, anywhere in the world, began at that moment.
Throughout 2018, all over UK and Ireland, contemporary and traditional circuses, museums, festivals, churches, theatres and archives will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of circus in performance, exhibitions, concerts and events.
#Circus250 is co-ordinating the year long celebrations. The full programme will be announced in October. There will be 365 days of astounding acts the like of which you have never seen before. The greatest show the UK has ever seen is about to begin.

Full resolution pics here:

"Image

Photo credit: Pete Maclaine for Circus250
For more information and images please contact:
 
Dea Birkett, Circus250
 
 
tel: 07771 994496
 
 
More on Lost in Translation at www.litcircus.com
Links to coverage of the event: