Wed, Jun 19 2013
THE circus is back in town. Monte Carlo Circus, owned by the Famous Bulgarian circus performer Alexander Balkanski, opens its doors on October 21 in Sofia suburb Zone B5. For the first time since 2001 the circus will be performing for a Bulgarian audience, says Balkanski. "We have prepared a show that people have never seen before".
For a start, it is a multinational circus, uniting some of the best circus performers in the world. "We have two clown couples, Bulgarian and Russian, who come from the famous Moscow Circus School," says Balkanski. One of the main attractions are the 12 Chinese women who perform four traditional Chinese acts: juggling with dishes, the devil pulley, the rubber act, which won the jury prize at the Monaco Circus Festival, and an act involving bicycles. "All participants in the circus have won prizes from the Monaco festival, which is why I called my circus Monte Carlo," says Balkanski proudly. The only Bulgarians in the show, the Balkanski family acrobatics group, who won the Silver Clown award at Monaco, perform the world famous wheel of death act. For the first time in the world a woman will take part in the act. Another Balkanski group act involves trampolining and stilts. Spectators can also enjoy the performance of the six tigers and 10 cats trained by a mother and daughter from Russia. Another star of the show is the ballet from the National Circus of Belarus with two boys and six girls performing six dances.
The history of the Balkanski family is an intriguing one in itself. "The name Balkanski actually comes from my father's side" says Balkanski. "My mother's family was in fact Italian. In 1820 my great-grandfather Giovanni Giuntini went with his circus to Russia where he had established two stationary circuses in Moscow and Samara". Up until 1870 the circus was called Giuntini Circus, but then Balkanski's grandmother was born and the circus took her name-Virginia Circus. In 1916, after the Communist Revolution in Russia, the circus was nationalised and the family lost everything and decided to go home to Italy. On their way from the Black Sea town Odessa they stopped in Varna and after a while decided to settle, having in mind that Bulgarian King Boris III was married to the Italian princes Joanna of Savoy. And again they established their own circus, this time in the city of Plovdiv. At first the circus was called Rex, but later on it changed to Evropa (Europe), Orlando and at the beginning of World War 2 took the name Levski Circus. This is when the Balkanski name appeared, after the father of Alexander Balkanksi married his mother. In 1948 after communism was established in Bulgaria the circus was once again nationalised and half of the family were appointed as state circus artists. Balkanski tells with sadness the tragic fate of the other Italian half of his family. They were forbidden to speak their native Italian and some of them were sent to the notorious communist Belene prison camp on the Danube. But those things are in the past now and should remain there, says Balkanksi philosophically.
His greatest worry is the decline of the circus in Bulgaria after democracy was established in 1989. "We were even better than the Soviet circus but now it is all lost because the state completely abandoned its duty to the circus artist". Balkanski's main goal now is to establish a circus school in Bulgaria and a Foundation for Circus Art. Another aim is to raise money for the building of a stationary circus in Sofia. When asked how he manages to survive, Balkanski answers that his circus relies only on the money that it collects from tours abroad in Israel and Turkey. Balkanski smiles when asked about David Copperfield. "You know, he is just an illusionist who just has a lot of money and special effects. He shows illusions, we perform true art".
The Monte Carlo Circus will be in Zone B5 from October 21 to 30, and then it moves to the suburb of Lyulin where it will perform from November 2 to13. Everyday, shows in the 1800-seat capacity, fully heated circus start at 4.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets for children are four leva and for adults the price varies from six - nine leva.
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