The Circus Essay

This essay has a total of 842 words and 5 pages.

The Circus

A circus is an arena for acrobatic exhibitions and animal shows. Usually
circular and surrounded
by tiers of seats for spectators, a circus may be in the open air but is
usually housed in a permanent
building or sheltered by a tent. The term circus is also applied to the
performance itself and to the troupe
of performers. The entertainment offered at a circus generally consists of
displays of horsemanship;
exhibitions by gymnasts, aerialists, wild-animal trainers, and performing
animals; and comic pantomime by
The first modern circus was staged in London in 1768 by Philip Astley, a
former sergeant major
in the English cavalry, who performed as a trick rider. Beginning with a
visit to Paris in 1772, Astley
introduced the circus in cities throughout continental Europe and was
responsible for establishing
permanent circuses in a number of European countries as well as in England. A
circus was first presented
in Russia in 1793 at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. By the early 19th
century several permanently
based circuses were located in many larger European cities. In addition,
small traveling shows moved from
town to town in caravans of covered wagons in which the performers lived. The
traveling shows were
usually simple affairs, featuring a fiddler or two, a juggler, a ropedancer,
and a few acrobats. In the early
circuses such performers gave their shows in open spaces and took up a
collection for pay; later, the
performers used an enclosed area and began to charge admission. By contrast,
the permanently-based
circuses of Europe staged elaborate shows. In the earlier part of the 19th
century a main feature of the
permanent circus program was the presentation of dramas that included
displays of horsemanship.
The circus was introduced in the United States by John Bill Ricketts, an
English equestrian who
opened a show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1792 and staged subsequent
circuses in New York City
and Boston, Massachusetts. President George Washington reportedly attended a
Ricketts circus and
sold the company a horse in 1797. The Ricketts circus remained in existence,
with several name changes,
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