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Circus Benneweis

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Circus Benneweis 2005

Founded: 1887

Present owner: Dawid and Nadia Benneweis

Present tent: 4-pool tent from 2005 with a seating capacity of aprox. 1,240 people.

Summer Season : Late March to mid September

Winterquarter: Hulerødvej 16, DK-3120 Dronningmølle (50 kilometer/31 miles north of Copenhagen)

Link to homepage: www.benneweis.dk (language: Danish only).

 

Brief history of the show:

A German musician August Wilhelm Binneweis (1839-1887) toured Denmark with a band called Braunschweiger Bergcapelle from 1858 to 1862. When the band was dissolved he stayed in Denmark where he married Charlotte Altenburg in 1865. Same year Charlotte gave birth to a son Gottfried (1865-1933). The family made their living as travelling musicians.

In 1887 Gottfried Binneweis married Marie Bruun (aprox. 1867-1935). Same year Gottfried Benneweis (the change of spelling might be due to a mistake in public registers) was granted permission from the police to perform as artist and musician and thus was circus Benneweis established. It has been on the roads ever since. No other circuses have been in the possession of the establishing family for more than 110 years!

Gottfried Benneweis died in 1933 and his eldest son Ferdinand Benneweis (1888-1945) became circus owner. In 1915 Ferdinand Benneweis married Irene Petersen (1891-1970) who had worked as performing artist with the circus since 1910. Ferdinand and Irene did not have children of their own. They took a foster child Eli (1911-1993) in 1916. Ferdinand had two children out of wedlock: a son Manfred Benneweis (1919 - 1987) who became a fine trainer of big cats and a daughter Musse Benneweis whose son Sonny Benneweis (1933 -1979) became an outstanding elephant trainer.

Eli Benneweis married German antipodist Eva Stensch (1910-1999) in 1936.

When Ferdinand Benneweis died in 1945 Eli Benneweis became circus owner, in the beginning in partnership with his stepmother Irene. Under Eli Benneweis management circus Benneweis was enlarged and soon became the largest circus in the Nordic Countries. Beside the tented circus Benneweis Eli Benneweis was involved in several other shows: Circus Korona (1948), Circus Belli (1955-57), Circus Buster (1961), Circus Hans Strassburger (Germany 1954), Circus Palmiri-Benneweis (Italy 1957-65), Circus Barum (Germany, 1963-67) and the Copenhagen Circus Building (1970-1990).

In Eli's will circus Benneweis was left to his and Eva's adopted daughter Diana Benneweis (born 1947) whose biological father was Manfred Benneweis. Thus has Diana been in charge of the show since 1994. After the 1995 season her two cousins the elephant trainer Kim Benneweis (born 1956) and the horse trainer Miller Benneweis (born 1958) (both of them sons of Sonny Benneweis) left the show apparently after some disagreements with Diana. It could be that they had hoped that Eli Benneweis in his will would have made them part owners of the show. Both Kim and Miller worked from 1997/1998 to 2002 for competing circus Arena. In 2002 Kim Benneweis was boss canvasman at Swedish Circus Scott. In 2004 and 2005 he assisted Diana Benneweis by staging the Benneweis performance. Miller Benneweis worked for part of season 2004 for Circus Dannebrog.

Diana has modernised the performance and although circus Arena today have a larger tent circus Benneweis is still the most established among the Danish circus presenting a fast-running international performance of high standard.

By the end of season 2015 Diana Benneweis has retired from circus business and handed over the management of Circus Benneweis to her twins Dawid and Nadia (born 1987). Circus Benneweis will spend season 2016 off the road for restructuring, and resume its long run in 2017 or 2018.

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Circus Benneweis 1987, celebrating its 100 anniversary

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