The circus year in review - Denmark 2000

By Ole Simonsen

In Denmark we have for many years had 4 tented circuses touring from April to September: Arena, Arli, Benneweis and Dannebrog, all of them being members of the Danish circus owners association ("Cirkusdirektørforeningen").

Furthermore there is a number of small shows: circus Mascot, circus Charlie, circus Panik, circus Petit, circus Julius & Co., circus Bella Donna, circus Shanghai, circus Krone etc.

Some youth organisation produces "circus"-performances with kids as performers, using names as circus Tværs, circus Flik-Flak, circus Regnbuebørn, circus Gelatti, circus Candi, Circus Fup og Fidus, Circus Kanutski, Circus Kæphøj, Circus O'laiski and Circus Sjowtime

A number of foreign circuses visited Copenhagen in 2000: Swedish circus Scott, French Le Cirque Invisible, English Tiger Lilis cabaret, the gypsy Romanès Cirque Tsigane and French trapeze-circus Les Arts Sauts.


Circus Arena:

Circus Arena has its winter quarters near Slagelse 57 miles west of Copenhagen.

From 1 to 9 February Arena presented an indoor circus in 7 cities in Jutland. Among the performers were two Martini´s, the Danish clown Bonbon, Suzanne Berdino riding high school and presenting liberty horses and Ingo Stiebner with his sealions.

The summer season opened on March 28 at the Bellahøj lot in Copenhagen where Arena stayed to April 24. The performance was called GIANT CIRCUS 2000. Arena claims to be the largest circus in Denmark. As in 1998 and 1999 the show was presented in a large oval 8-pool tent with traditional one-ring set up and with a seating capacity of 1,700 people - the largest circus tent in Denmark. As previous seasons Arena had chairs at all the seats. Ticket prices were from DKK 100 - DKK 170. (DKK 100 is aprox. 12.75 $ or 8.70 £.)

The performance run for 2 hours 15 minutes and was accompanied by an 8-piece band. The performance was nice with several excellent acts - I especially liked Dalian Acrobatic Troupe's bike act, Duo Nastase's arial act and Ingo Stiebner's sealions. Circus owner Benny Berdino presented the performance:

Dalian Acrobatic Troupe - plate balancing

Miller Benneweis - horses

Duo Nastase - trapeze

Kim Benneweis - 4 Indian elephants

MG Team - roller skates

Dalian Acrobatic Troupe - diabolo

Millenium Troupe - perch

José Michels - clowns

Max Weldy -comedy trampoline

Duo Lagron - Arial act

Ingo Stiebner - sealions

Dalian Acrobatic Troupe - bike act (winner of Monte Carlo Golden Clown)

Closing day for the 2000 tented performance was September 17 in Sorø, close to the shows winter quarter in Slagelse.

As previous years circus owner Benny Berdino presented a show in Sweden called Circus Skratt ("Skratt" is the Swedish word for laughter). Owner of the name SKRATT in Sweden is a Swede, Bo Rönnberg, who as previous years rented the circus, tent and all, from Benny Berdino and toured Sweden spring and autumn (but not summer) with a 6-pole 1,400 chair tent. Most of the performances were sponsored. Benny Berdinos daughter and son-in-law Susanne and Karsten Berdino were in charge of daily management of circus Skratt.

From the middle of June to August Benny Berdino presented a circus performance in "BonBon-land" - an amusement park 40 miles south-west of Copenhagen. His daughter Susanne Berdino was in charge of this show - and most of the performers were from circus Skratt.


Circus Arli:

Tiny Circus Arli opened its 30th season in a brand new tent on 1 April in Fløng, near Copenhagen. A two piece band accompanied the performance.

Among the performers were Freddy Anthony (musical entertainer), The Khouasaenov acrobats and Novicovi (jugglers) and several members of the Arli family: circus owner Søren Arli, his son and daughter-in-law Martin and Bettina and their son Alexander.

Circus Arli toured Zealand during the entire season. Closing day was in September. Ticket prises were from DKK 55 to DKK 90.


Circus Benneweis:

Although not any longer the largest by size of tent circus Benneweis is the most established of the Danish circuses.

As in 1999 circus owner Diana Benneweis presented an excellent performance - by my opinion better than the one presented by competing circus Arena.

Benneweis' winter quarters have for many years been in Dronningmølle 30 miles north of Copenhagen. Opening day for the show's 113th season was April 6 in Hillerød 20 miles north of Copenhagen (and only 5 miles from my hometown Allerød). Benneweis stayed 4 days in Hillerød. The tent was from 1996 - 42 meter (137 feet) in diameter with 4 king pools and with chairs on all seats. Ticket prices were from DKK 100 - DKK 160.

From opening day until late September Circus Benneweis toured Zealand, Isle of Funen and Jutland. On 20 august Benneweis was back on Zealand where the season closed with the traditional visit to Copenhagen (Bellahøj) from 29 August to 10 September.

The performance was called Classic and New Wave and run for 2 hours 10 minutes and was accompanied by a 7-piece band. As mentioned above it was a very fine performance with several outstanding acts:

Overture - Bogdan Szlachic's Orchestra

"Welcome to CIRCUS BENNEWEIS !" - Diana Benneweis

ASSYAT AGAEVA - Dog Training

EVA GARCIA - Aerial Silks

DENISE & MASSIMO - Adagio/Roller-Skating

SERGEI & ALEXEI - Entrée/Reprise-Clowns

MAIKE & JÖRG PROBST - Domestic-Animal Training

YEMELIN & Co - Magic-Box Comedy

WENDELL HUBER'S COMEDY - Elephant and Dog Training

MAIKE PROBST - Horse Dressage

SERGEI & ALEXEI - Entrée/Reprise-Clowns

JEAN MARC - CD/Tempo Juggler



SERGEI & ALEXEI - Entrée/Reprise-Clowns

THE KINAI TROUPE - Aerial/Bungee-Jump

My favourite acts in this years performance were the clowns Yemelin & Co., Assyat Agavas comical dog acts, Maike & Jörg Probst with a pas des deux on cows (sic!), Wendel Huber's comical act with 2 elephants and a St. Bernard dog and the Kinai-troup.

As in 1999 there was no ringmaster.


Copenhagen Circus Building:

Sadly enough this fine building was not used for circus performances in 2000.


Circus Dannebrog:

Opening day was on 30 March in Vojens. Vojens is close to Circus Dannebrog's winter quarters in Toustrup Mølle. Dannebrog advertise them as "The national circus of Denmark".

The performance run for 2 hours 20 minutes and was accompanied by a 7-piece band. Ticket prices were from DKK 60 to DKK 140. The tent was from 1998 - 32 meter (104 feet) in diameter with 4 king pools and 8 quarter pools. 1022 seats all of them chairs.

The season started in Jutland. August and September brought the show to Zealand with a stay in Copenhagen from 1 to 17 September. Closing day was on 29 September in Haderslev.

The 1999-performance were nice but not sensational.

Gina Giovannis - handstand and tight wire

Haddies Jr. & Jr. Dennie and Jimmy - bike act (the Enoch family's speciality)

David Kost -Washington Trapeze.

Circus owner Haddy Enoch with liberty horses

Mr. Spaghetti - comical act (unfortunately not funny!)
Dubsky's football dogs

Dubsky Rivel Family - clowns.

Diana Rhodin - elephants, liberty horses and high school

Russian juggler

Agnete Louise Enoch (born 1957), eldest daughter of circusowner Haddy Enoch and ringmistress with Dannebrog since 1977 married Austrian hand stand acrobat Walther Wasil (born 1947) on 11 September 2000 in Christians Church in Copenhagen. The couple met first time 30 (!) years ago. Walter works mainly with circuses and night-clubs in Spain. The couple's settled in Spain when circus Dannebrog had finished it's year 2000 season.

After the close of season Josétte Rivel and her husband Josef Dubsky retired. Their son Janos being the whiteface clown in the troupe took over the Dubsky's football dogs from his sister Tina and her husband Jonny and will continue with this act.


Cirkus Mascot

Jess and Marianne Deleuran own tiny circus Mascot. It was the shows 7th season. Mascot had a good season with 211 performances in 178 cities in at tent seating 180 spectators. Among the performers were the Duo Carlos clowns, Miss Oksana (hula-hop), Arthur (handstand), Miss Marianne (Deleuran) with dogs and the clown Mr. Balloon JR. (Daniel Deleuran, 10 years old).


Other shows in Denmark:

A number of small shows toured Denmark during the holiday season.

Circus Charlie was active part of the season. Among other small shows - most of them with a limited number of performances - were Circus Panik, Circus Petit and Circus Julius & Co.

As previous years Benny Schumann (grandson of the late clown Charlie Rivel) presented several one-man-shows. In 2000 Benny included a pony-show and a goat in the performance. This version of his show was presented under the name Circus Benny Schumann. Brian "Briano" Behrendt assisted Benny with the ponies. In addition to perform with his one-man show Benny Schumann has since 1996 been artistic director of The International Clown Festival - now a tradition, held every year in August at Dyrehavsbakken (Denmark's oldest amusement park, 10 miles north of Copenhagen). The year 2000 festival was held 7 - 13 August. 12 world-class clowns participated in the festival. The clown Fransesco Caroli (born 1922 and this year celebrating his 60th year as a white-face clown) was awarded the Charlie Rivel award. In 1998 the great Russian Clown Oleg Popov received this honorary price and in 1999 it went to Konrad Thur.

René Mønster toured from 4 May to 15 September with his Circus-theatre, established in 1998 in partnership with actor Jenny Abelgren. The partnership was split in 2000 and Rene Mønster is now the sole owner. René Mønster worked from 1986 to 1994 with circus Arena as assisting manager and performed for some seasons as magician under the name Ron Marvin. The Circus-theatre is more a theatre (for children) than a circus although the performance included several circus acts. The year 2000-performance was called Aladdin. As for the 1999 season Rene Mønster used a 4-pool tent, 24 meter (79 feet) in diameter, with a seating capacity of 500.

Five foreign circuses - 4 of them new wave circuses - visited Copenhagen:

Le Cirque Invisible, a two-person circus-variety with Victoria Chaplin and Jean Baptiste Thierrée visited Copenhagen for the fourth time in May and June with what they called "The greatest show on earth with the smallest cast imaginable". Those two unique personalities and artists have created their own magical and poetic world.

Tiger Lilis cabaret visited Copenhagen from 22 to 26 August. The press release presented them as "Bizarre ballads by singer-songwriter Martyn Jacques about life in Soho, sung like "Tom Waits was on helium" meets the Russian State Circus, Archaos and the Reeperbahn. The cabaret ambience of the 30ies is totally revived in a theatre with waited table. Here the English cult-band The Tiger Lillies coil themselves around nostalgic acts, such as the mysterious and exotic "West Side Story" dancer Syvia Gemen, the acrobatic clown Kotini Jr., the juggler Buba, the body artist Jinny Jesica Jacinto and performance artists Lisa & Terry."

Romanès Cirque Tsigane presented themselves as a gypsy circus for the whole family. They visited Copenhagen from 27 to 30 August.

The French Les Arts Sauts presented their trapeze program Kayassine in Copenhagen from 1 to 18 June. The same performance was presented in US in 1999 as part of the Lincoln Center Summer Festival in New York. It was a spectacular performance performed in a specially designed 25 meter high white Dome. The audience watched this magnificent circus performance from deckchairs. The performance was very well received by the press.

Swedish Circus Scott visited Copenhagen from 25 to 29 October. Their year 2000 season opened on 18 July in Sundswall, Sweden and toured Sweden (however not the northern part) with a visit to Oslo (the Norwegian capital) and closing in Copenhagen. During the entire season there were rumours on economical problems for the owners Henry and Robert Scott - the Swedish newspaper. "Expressen" mentioned unpaid taxmoney, 2.7 million SEK for two years 97-98.

Economical problems or not - the performance presented in Copenhagen was excellent running for 2 hours 15 minutes and accompanied by a 10 pieces band. Seating capacity was 1.800 people (the programme said 2.800 people, but the Bronett's are - as many in circus business - well known for exaggerating). Ticket prices were from 230 - 285 DKK (almost double price of a Danish circus!)

As mentioned above it was an excellent performance with several outstanding acts:

Overture - Marcus Jaichners Orchestra

Irena Purschke - reprise

John Vernuccio - liberty horses

Gabi Dew - riding the courier

The clown Francesco
Don Martinez - Comical Trampoline

Markus Quaiser - Camel

Alexander Safochkine - Roman rings

Shirley Dean - juggler and winner of the title Circus Princess 2000 at Princess Circus Festival in Stockholm in June 2000

The Flying Condors - flying trapeze

Isabelle Vaudelle- arial act

My favourite acts were Don Martinez, his daughter Shirley Dean, Gabi Dew and the flying Condors.

Business in for Scott in Copenhagen were not good: Full house on opening night (but all tickets was given away for free through the Danish newspaper Ekstra-Bladet), few spectators at the remaining performances. However, apart from in Ekstra-Bladet there was no advertising, neither any posters - so how should Danish circus-goers know about Scott in town?


Tivoli in Copenhagen presented as always some fine acts as free attractions. During the season we saw the Chan Chun troupe (Chinese acrobats), Nadja Gasser (sealions), Rampin Brothers (acrobats) and Teslanko Bros (Russian jugglers).

A group of young and enthusiastic persons presented in December a variety performance called "The Loyal Club" in Copenhagen. Among the performers were talented Danish juggler Steen Offersen, Russian trapeze acrobat Lady Tatiana and Danish Trapeze-duo Aerius.

Maja Aerius, newly educated artist from AFUK, Copenhagen, and Esben Aerius, established Aerius in March 2000. Aerius is Latin and means: belonging to the air. Apart from performing at The Loyal Club Arius performed at CHAMÄLEON VARIETÈ's special performance in connection with a meeting for European Circus Schools in Berlin on 3 and 4 November 2000. Aerius has received technical instruction from Valentin Glazyrin from the Moscow Circus School, now instructor at AFUK in Copenhagen. After Berlin the Duo Aerius went to the Moscow Circus School from January to March 2001. Esben Aerius received Peter Lie's scholarship to cover part of the cost for his study at the Moscow Circus School. Duo Aerius are very talented and could very well be coming stars.


In memoriam:

The clown Bello (Erling Elo Birkevang) died in December 2000, 65 years of age.

Karl Kossmayer who for many years together with his sister Julie presented a comical act with donkeys passed away on 24 December 2000, 83 years old. As son of animal trainer Alfons Kossmayer Karl was born to become an acrobat. Karl's first season was in 1928 with circus Reinsch in Denmark - and it was during this season he started to perform with donkeys. He performed several seasons in Denmark with circus Benneweis, circus Louis and circus Schumann. Last time I saw his number in Denmark was in 1978 in the Copenhagen Circus Building. Karl Kossmayer worked several seasons with Holiday on Ice, where he met Dutch OL champion Sjouke Dijkstra whom he married in 1972. Karl was born in Sweden but became a Dutch citizen after settling in Hilversum in Netherlands.


The circus year in review - Denmark 2000 was published 06 marts 2001

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