Project Description

Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard

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The Old Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard is one of the oldest circuses in Russia. The former rider and gymnast Albert Salamonski established the permanent brick building for the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow in 1880.

On the 20th of October 1880 the circus was opened with five rows of seats, box seats, a dress circle, wooden unnumbered benches and a standing gallery . In 1884, brick stalls were built and, in 1889 a swimming pool was added. Albert Salamonski, himself a remarkable rider, found and attracted to the circus the best horse acts as well as other phenomenal acts from all over the world. At that time the circus began to expand its repertoire with elaborate pantomimes and special performances for children.

In 1919 the Circus was nationalized in accordance with a decree from Lenin becoming the first Moscow State Circus. During World War II (1941-1945) the circus ran uninterrupted. New performances were produced including special stunts which enacted military hostilities.

Yury V. Nikulin
General Manager and Artistic Director of the Moscow Circus on Tzvetnoy Boulevard 1982 – 1997. National Artist of the USSR, Socialist Labor Hero, Laureate of the Russian State Award
“I always believed that those circus people who compel others to burst out laughing are the most important ones”.

The Chief Artistic Director M. Mestetchkin and the talented Manager A. Assanov contributed greatly to the Circus. In 1946 the Clown Studio was introduced. The best clowns of the russian circus, including Yury Nikulin, graduated from there. Starting in 1960 Yury Nikulin performed for many years as a clown. In 1983, Yury Nikulin was named the Chief Producer of the Old Moscow Circus. The last performance in the old building of the Circus took place on the 13th of September, 1985. It was a very emotional event for everyone.

In 1982 Yury Nikulin was appointed head the Circus office as a General Manager and Artistic Director. During this time many memorable shows were created including: ” I am a clown”, ” On the wings of time”, ” Hello The Old Circus!”, ” First time in Moscow”, ” Nevsky prospekt”, “Boulevard of our childhood”,” Sweet Sweet Love”and”Fair of Wonders”. There were many talented performers who took part in the shows: Elephant trainers – T. and A. Kornilovs, P. Prostetsov with “Trained dogs”, T. Nugzarov with “Skillful horsemen”, V. Golovko with a flying act ” The Cranes” and S. Begbudy with white tigers. Such artistic directors as V. Krymko, V. Pliner, A. Zheromsky, V. Motorin, V. Gneushev contributed to the Circus’s continuing success.

Owing to Nikulin’s efforts, a new circus building was errected between 1985 – 1989. Yury Nikulin was always open to all creative and new, that is why the Experimental studio under the leadership of V. Gneushev was opened in 1994. New shows were continually being replenished by young talented artists and original acts.

A big celebration was held in December 1996 to mark the year of Nikulin jubilee – 75th birthday plus 50 years in the circus. In August 1997 the life of the great artist and great person came to an end but his memory is alive in circus world and in hearts of people. Yury Nikulin stared in 40 pictures. Those pictures are still the favorite pictures of all generations. – ” Diamond hand”, Caucasus prisoner”, “Ы – Operation”, “Come up to me, Muchtar”, ” Twenty days without war”

One cannot imagine the motion picture world or the circus world without Nikulin. ” Notoriety came to me late, when I was almost fifty. I was never intoxicated by this notoriety. No, I just worked, just lived, just socialized with friends, just read…” Yury Nikulin took on many different roles in the films but never performed miserable or ill-tempered persons. His characters were funny but aroused sympathy and love.

A lot of circus performers often take Nikulin’s videos along when they leave for long tours, stating that without those videos their life would be much more boring. Gathering anecdotes all of his life, Nikulin published several anthologies – “Anecdotes from Nikulin” with the invariable autograph: “For joy and fun”. His book “Almost serious” was reprinted several times.

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