LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Thursday, 30 January 2014

5 Flying Trapeze Facts to celebrate world's first quintuple somersault!

Han Ho Song achieves world's first quintuple somersault
with the North Korean National Circus of Pyongyang


First it was the triple - the holy grail that every trapeze flyer sought to achieve and so few would ever master. Then it was the quadruple - finally accomplished more than a 100 years after the invention of the flying trapeze. Now, in the 21st World Christmas Circus in Stuttgart, Germany, Korean flyer Han Ho Song has made circus history by turning FIVE mid-air back somersaults - the believed impossible quintuple - on no less than 25 occasions.

To celebrate, here are Five Facts about the Flying Trapeze.

Jules Leotard
a drawing from
Circus Mania
1 Leotards are named after the father of the flying trapeze, Jules Leotard, who was the first man to jump from one trapeze swing to another.


The first safety net was used by Spanish troupe the Rizarellis at London’s Holborn Empire in 1891.


Burt Lancaster
in Trapeze
Click here to read
my review
Burt Lancaster, who played a catcher alongside Tony Curtis in the film Trapeze, was a real life trapeze star before becoming an actor.


Miguel Vazquez and his brother Juan were the first to achieve a quadruple somersault, in a performance by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Tuscon, Arizona on July 10, 1982.


The swing the flyer uses is called the Fly Bar.

You can watch a video of Han Ho Song’s quintuple on the Circus Geeks website by clicking here.

Update! January 31
- But is it a 'genuine' quadruple? Click here for a contrary view.


For more on the flying trapeze, go backstage at Britain’s oldest circus building, the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, to meet Brazilian trapeze stars The Flying Neves in rehearsal and warm-up, in Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away with the Circus by Douglas McPherson.

Described by the Mail on Sunday as “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form,” Circus Mania is a behind-the-scenes journey through the world of circus from traditional big top shows with Britain’s last tigers and elephants to the sophistication of Cirque du Soleil.

Click here to buy Circus Mania from Amazon.

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