250 years ago modern circus was born!
250 years ago, in 1768, a young equestrian named Philip Astley performed in London, in a field near Westminster Bridge, on a circular ring 13 metres in diameter, an equestrian show mixed with acts from the fair: jugglers, equilibrists, funambulists and even trained animals (dogs and monkeys). Modern circus was born … on horseback!
The musical atmosphere was provided by a bagpipe orchestra with Mrs Astley on the drum.
With bad weather approaching, Philip Astley mixed wood chippings with the earth in the ring, which gave it that familiar colour that it still maintains today.
Philip Astley, the inventor of modern circus as well as the ring which we all know, quickly crossed the Channel, as he was invited to perform in France by King Louis XVI.
To pay tribute to Philip Astley, H.S.H. Princess Stéphanie, President of the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo Organising Committee, invited to the famous Fontvieille ring the best "Equestrian Pas de Deux" in the history of modern circus, featuring Jozsef Richter Junior and his young wife Merrylu.
One of the greatest and most astonishing moments in this act is the balancing of Merrylu on the head of her husband, as he stands on two horses circling the ring.
Whilst the Monte-Carlo Circus Festival wishes to highlight traditional circus, it is also a place for creation and innovation. The Organising Committee invited the Simet trio to the festival with their "Astronauts" act: the three Hungarian artistes perform incredible balancing acts on their gigantic moving "arc". This gravity-defying aerial act is sure to please the audience!