Posted on March 28, 2014
On this date in 1881, the “Greatest Show on Earth” was created.
Circus owner P.T. Barnum merged his show with James A. Bailey's circus – and together their circus really was greater.
On March 29, 1919, the seven Ringling Brothers merged their circus with Barnum & Bailey's – I guess creating the Even Greatest Show on Earth?
(Actually, it's still just called “Greatest Show on Earth.” By the way, I find it strange that “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus” is still the name of this most famous of U.S. circuses—which is strange, because people can't even be bothered to say “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie,” so you would definitely think that this circus's name would have been streamlined by now. Maybe Ringling BBB? But I guess long names are part of the culture of circuses. Barnum's first circus was called “P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome”!)
A circus in a company of performers who do stunt-oriented performances, sometimes with animals. Some of the performers commonly seen in circuses include clowns, acrobats, stunt riders, stilt walkers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists, and animal trainers. Aerial acts using one or more trapezes, ropes, rings, or hoops are an exciting part of most circuses.
|I generally think of "circus animals"|
being elephants and lion and tigers...
But this early Barnum & Bailey poster
lures viewers to come watch the
Modern circuses began in the mid-1700s in England, and they were almost entirely about horse riding skills and tricks. Within the next 50 years many other sorts of acts were presented, including huge, theatrical battle reenactments! By the late 1800s, the ringmaster presenting acts choreographed to music became the favored style of circuses—and this style lasted a century!
Nowadays, most people think Cirque du Soleil rather than Ringling Bros. The nouveau cirque (which is French for “new circus”) features fewer (or no) animal acts and a more theatrical, artistic show, shown in a theater, complete with sets, lighting, avant-garde costumes, and original music.
But you can still get your Barnum & Bailey fix, often in a “big top” tent, with elephants and lions, dancing dogs and speeding steeds, clowns crammed into a tiny car and lovely ladies flying through the air with the greatest of ease.
- Here is a video of some great Cirque Du Soleil acts.
- Here is a more traditional circus—with elephants.
- And this traditional circus act features lions.
Or go the distance, think big, and have a circus mini-party! There are tons of ideas for crafts, snacks, games, and all manner of circus fun here.
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