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A family of Russian circus performers and entrepreneurs.
The Nikitin brothers—Dmitrii Aleksandrovich (born 1835; died Jan. 13, 1918), Akim Aleksandrovich (born 1843; died Apr. 21, 1917), and Petr Aleksandrovich (born 1846; died Aug. 20, 1921)—were the founders of the first Russian circuses. They were of serf origin.
The Nikitins performed initially in the streets, then in balagany (temporary wooden structures), and finally in circus theaters. In 1873 they opened the Nikitin Brothers’ Russian Circus in Penza. Up until that time, circus entrepreneurs in Russia were mainly foreigners. The Nikitins built about 25 winter and summer circuses in such cities as Moscow, Tbilisi, Baku, Astrakhan, Saratov, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, and Ivanovo-Voznesensk. The brothers hired the best circus performers and trained young pupils. In 1911, Akim Aleksandrovich built a circus in Moscow on the former Triumfal’naia Square; it had an arena that could be rotated and lowered and a tank for aquatic acts. The Nikitins were also talented jugglers, gymnasts, acrobats, and horse trainers.
Nikolai Akimovich Nikitin. Born Dec. 5, 1887; died Nov. 24, 1963. Juggler on horseback and animal trainer. Honored Artist of the RSFSR (1947).
N. A. Nikitin, the son of Akim Aleksandrovich, was awarded the Medal of Honor. His son, Nikolai Nikolaevich (born 1912; died 1943), was a circus rider and juggler. He died at the front during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.
REFERENCESKuznetsov, E. M. Tsirk. 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1971.
Pod tsirkovym shatrom. Saratov, 1973.
Iu. A. DMITRIEV