|Roll up, roll up... for World Circus Day!|
To celebrate the sixth World Circus Day this Saturday April 18, here are 20 fabulous facts about the sawdust circle.
1 - The word circus dates from Roman times when arenas such as the Circus Maximus staged chariot races, gladiatorial contests and mock battles.
2 - The modern circus was founded in London by trick horse-rider Philip Astley, who opened his Amphitheatre of Equestrian Arts in London, in 1768.
3 - Astley’s rival Charles Hughes was the first to use the word circus in the modern sense when he founded the Royal Circus.
4 - A standard circus ring is 42-feet in diameter.
5 - Clowns are nicknamed Joeys after 19th century pantomime star Joseph Grimaldi.
6 - Leotards are named after the first star of the flying trapeze, Jules Leotard.
7 - The word jumbo, meaning large, entered the English language because of Jumbo, an 11-foot-tall elephant that the American showman PT Barnum bought from London Zoo.
8 - The traditional circus theme music is called Entrance of the Gladiators.
9 - Charlie Cairoli was the first clown to appear on This Is Your Life.
10 - Chinese acrobats first appeared in European circuses in 1866.
11 - Cirque du Soleil was created as part of the 1984 celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of Canada.
12 - Enrico Rastelli (1896 - 1931) is widely considered greatest juggler of all time, being able to juggle ten balls at once.
13 - The first American circus was founded by John Bill Ricketts in Philadelphia on April 3, 1793.
14 - A ‘josser’ is an outsider who joins the circus.
15 - According to circus superstition, it’s unlucky to wear green in the ring.
16 - Foot-juggling with a person is known as a Risley act after the 19th century American pioneer of the style Richard Risley Carlisle.
17 - The mischievous clown in a double act is called the ‘auguste’ and the straight man is the ‘whiteface.’
18 - The word clown is believed to come from the Icelandic word klunni, meaning a clumsy person.
19 - The first elephant to appear in a British circus performed at Covent Garden in 1810.
20- Joshua Purdy Brown staged the first circus in a tent or big top in America in 1825. Before that, circuses were performed in buildings or the open air.
"A passionate, up-to-date look
at the circus and its people"
- Gerry Cottle.
“Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form.”
- Mail on Sunday.
“The Greatest Show on Earth... in a Book!”
- World’s Fair.
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And may all your days be circus days!