Circuses have performed in Moscow for a long time. Skomorokhi (buffoons) performed there from the 15th to 17th centuries. In 1764 the English horseman J. Bates demonstrated his equestrian skills in the amphitheater near Krasnyi Prud. Foreign artists performed at private maneges. In 1830 a tent circus was exhibited in Neskuchnyi Garden. The permanent circuses of V. Novosil’tsev and K. Ginne were set up in Moscow in the second half of the 19th century.
On Oct. 20, 1880, A. Salamonskii’s circus, built of stone, opened on Tsvetnoi Boulevard, where the Moscow Circus is now located. Beginning in 1886 the Nikitin brothers’ circus appeared in the building formerly housing the “Storming of Plevna” panorama on Tsvetnoi Boulevard; in 1911 the Nikitins opened a second circus on Triumfal’naia Square. After the October Revolution of 1917, artists’ societies were founded in both circuses. In 1919 they became state circuses.
From 1926 to 1971, Moscow had only one circus, which was located in Tsvetnoi Boulevard. The best acts included pantomimes, sketches, and the programs The Black Pirate (1927), The Makhno Movement (1929), Moscow in Revolutionary Fire (1930), India on Fire (1931), Carnival in Cuba (1962), The Peace Pipe (1962), The Romantics (1966), Always on the Road (1968), and Miracles on the Arena (1973). The stage directors of the Moscow Circus have included V. Trutstsi, A. G. Arnol’d, B. A. Shakhet, Iu. S. Iurskii, and N. N. Zinov’ev. Since 1954, M. S. Mestechkin has been the principal stage director. The circus was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1939.
In 1971 a second Moscow Circus was opened on the Lenin Hills (architects Ia. B. Belopol’skii and others, engineers Iu. A. Dykhovichnyi and others). This unusual structure has 3, 300 seats and meets the requirements of modern circus construction. Between 1971 and 1974 the Moscow Circus staged the programs The Lights of the New Circus, Russian Souvenirs, Moscow Welcomes Its Friends, and Today Is a Festival at the Circus.
REFERENCESDmitriev, Iu. Russkii tsirk Moscow, 1953.
Dmitriev, Iu. Sovetskii tsirk. Moscow, 1963.
Dmitriev, Iu. Sovetskii tsirk segodnia, Moscow, 1968.
Kuznetsov, E. Tsirk Moscow-Leningrad, 1971.
A. IA. SHNEER