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a circus performer who demonstrates the art of balancing on a rope secured between two points of support.
Ropewalkers have been known since antiquity (Rome, China, Persia). In the Middle Ages the art spread to Middle Asia, the Caucasus, the European countries, and, later, South America. The Russian ropewalker F. F. Molodtsov, who performed during the second half of the 19th century, was known for outstanding feats (for example, crossing the Neva and the Thames on a tightrope). At the end of the 19th century the hemp rope, used originally, was replaced with a steel wire, making it possible for several artists to perform on the rope at the same time. The best known Soviet ropewalkers are the Svirins and the Tarasovs (1920’s-50’s), the Khibins (1940V50’s), the Volzhanskii family (1950’s-70’s), the Uzbek Tashkenbaev family (1940’s-70’s), and the Dagestan Tsovkra group (1930’s-70’s).