For five weeks they filled hearts of Minsk residents and the city’s guests with joy by their magical performance. Nimble fingers of the illusionist and the lightness of the gymnasts sent the house roaring while smiles cannot fail to appear when the audience saw trained monkeys and tricks the clown did. It is notable this composition of the artists was formed quite recently — two years ago. Since the circus foundation (47 years have passed) it is the first permanent group. But everything in its time.
A circus in Minsk appeared back in times before the war. But in June 1941 the building burnt down after a bombing and the troupe was evacuated to the Russian city of Omsk. Four months later the city saw… the Belarusian circus open. The circus’ first director was Boris Kabischer, almost a legendary person, who restored the chapiteau circus in Minsk in the post-war years for the first time. However, the circus birthday is believed to fall on February 11, 1959, when the first show was staged for spectators.
The world’s best stars gathered full house: the Durovs, the Zapashnyis, the Filatovs (animal training), Kio (illusions), Yuri Nikulin, Oleg Popov, Karandash (clownery). Now time has come to raise our own stars. One of them is Anastasiya Tumanova. In France, Japan, Holland, England, Belgium, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates — wherever she came, she was warmly greeted with a storm of applause. Another star is clown Sergei Zagorskiy. Many awards did he win: a bronze of the international festival “Tomorrow’s Circus” in Paris, a “Golden Ostap” at a satire and humour festival in St. Petersburg, a jury prize at a circus art festival in Monte Carlo…
Story told in intermission
An intermission in the circus is a real DOLCE VITA. All around you see candyfloss, ice cream, sweets on a stick… Parents have a hard time trying to keep their offsprings in place, ‘cause the clown over there is making poodles of air balloons and there you can have a photo taken of you with a monkey. In the arena guys dream they are cowboys while riding good-natured ponies.
“We’ve been working a lot for this success, a lot of efforts were exercised and now we reap the fruits of our labour!” said Yelena Teplyakova, assistant to the art director. “But we are not going to stop now: the circus art lets you have only brief moments of breathing space, but not long intervals. The artists understand it perfectly well, they come up with new features, try to add something to a show, think up new outfits. Circus is a constant movement. Once you stop, you fall very far behind”.
“Tell me, please, how the Belarusian troupe was created”.
“Circus director Tatiana Bondarchuk nurtured the idea for a long time, but we were able to make it come true rather recently: only two years ago. You should understand it takes a very diligent person to gather together artists from tours all over the globe (for example, Anastasiya Tumanova worked at Frederick Staat Palace in Germany at that time), to write a script, which would reflect traditions of the Belarusian culture. Nevertheless, the Belarusian collective was created, to be exact, was born inside the circus walls. On the whole, we managed to unite around sixty people, who are now salaried employees of the Belarusian State Circus”.
“How much successful was the first night of the Belarusian programme?”
“We have a very close relationship with the Moscow Circus in Tsvetnoi Boulevard. We always apply to each other for aid and a word of advice. On the first night’s eve Maksim Nikulin (son of the legendary Russian clown Yuri Nikulin and art director of the Moscow Circus in Tsvetnoi Boulevard — author’s note) came to us and honestly owned up, ‘On my way here I thought I would have to help, give advice. On arriving here I saw you’d done without me just fine’. The house was sold out on that day”.
“What about now?”
“Since 2004 we’ve been constantly having the full house. Of course, the show programme has changed: the one we have today resembles the old one in genres only, which were left untouched. The shows are constantly renewed, as our guys are very creative. Certainly, spectators are the best jury, by in professional opinion the new programme turned out be very integrated, light, stylish and fashionable”.
“Has the new troupe already toured?”
“We have already taken the first programme to Latvia and Ukraine. Brought a lot of praise, positive reviews as well as newspaper articles dwelling on the mastery of Belarusian circus artists”.
So it begins. The music resumes. As always live. An “army” of street cleaners led by clown Sergei Zagorskiy ran into the arena. Sweeping the arena is no joke. The “army commander” needs to be dead serious, but laughing children keep away concentration. Why? The smile of this clown is not part of the make-up, no other smile is more frolicsome and kinder…
Laughter, motley outfits, bright colours of the stage set… Pity, the beauty will leave soon: a contract has been signed recently with an impresario, who is set to take four shows to Malaysia and Korea. Well, we can only wish every success to the artists. Though, it always accompanies them.
by Olga Kornei