The circus year in review - Denmark 2003

By Ole Simonsen

As in 2002 8 tented circuses toured Denmark from late March/early April to September: 3 large: Circus Arena, Circus Ben­neweis and Circus Dannebrog and 5 dog and pony-shows (what Americans calls high grass circuses): Circus Arli, Circus Baldoni, Circus Charlie, Circus Krone and Circus Mascot.

Further­more there was a number of small shows touring more or less regularly: Circus Panik, Circus Petit, Circus Julius & Co., Circus Bella Donna, Circus Shanghai, Circus Mongo, Circus 3 etc.

Some youth organisation produces circus-performances with kids as performers, using names as Circus Flik-Flak (probably the most established of the youth circuses), Circus Regnbueborn, Circus Gelatti, Circus Candi, Circus Kanutski, Circus Kaephoj and Circus Sjowtime.

Four foreign new wave circuses visited Copenhagen in 2003: First show was  Aurélias Oratorium” with Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and daughter Aurélia Thierrée. Oratorium could be seen from 25 June to 29 June. Next performance was ”GOPF” from Switzerland with a show combining dance, circus, architecture and live music. GOPF could be seen from 2 to 4 July.

The third performance was the Australian company Acrobat with artist with long hair and beards. Acrobat could be seen from 4 to 6 July. The last show was Collectif AOC from France. The 6 performers and dancers delved into gravity defying somersaults from the scaffolding-set onto a predominant trampoline and climbed walls like human spiders. Collectif AOC could be seen from 10 to 14 July.

A fifth show the German (traditional) three-ring circus Circus Berolina planed to visit Kolding in the Southern part of Jutland from 15 to 19 October. Posters were up all over Kolding but the visit was cancelled with short notice. Apparently circus owners Katharina and Bernhard Spindler had not foreseen the problems in bringing their many animals to Denmark: big cat acts are not aloud in Denmark and permission is required to present acts with elephants. And camels and lamas have to be tested for foot- and mouth disease to cross the Danish border.

For many years most Danish circuses had musicians from Poland. But as in 2001 and 2002 due to a conflict between the Danish Musicians Union and the circus owners no Poles were granted permission to work in a Danish circus band. Circus Arli, Circus Dannebrog and Circus Mascot used taped music. Circus Arena and Circus Benneweis hired a few English musicians. (According to EU regulations English musicians are entitled to work in Denmark). Circus Krone used taped music backed up by life music performed by members of the owner’s family.

Denmark has 2 fine circus museums. The Circus Museum at Hvidovre, Copenhagen was established in 2001 and includes the Barly collection - more than 100,000 items (mainly photos but also several costumes). Only a part of the collection is on exhibition. The museum is situated in a former military camp called Avedorelejren in Hvidovre (suburb to Copenhagen, approximately 12.5 kilometers/8 miles from downtown Copenhagen). The museum is open all year round. The Circus Museum in Rold (80 kilometer north of Aarhus, Jutland) is open to the public from April to October. This museum was established in 1982 in connection with the riding-school (training barn) builded in 1912 to Circus Miehe. Circus Miehe shut down after season 1958.

Circus Arena:  

Circus Arena have for many years had its winter quarter near Slagelse 57 miles west of Copenhagen.

Early February Arena presented an indoor circus in some cities in Jutland. The indoor circus ended up at the Faeroe Islands. Among the performers were Chinese acrobats Tseng-Hai Sun family, Finnish juggler Kalle Järnström and Danish comical casdeadeurs Steckel’s. Three members from the Arli family of Circus Arli took part of the performance: Martin Arli as magician, his son Alexander Arli with riverdance step and handstand and Martin with his wife Bettina as the clowns Martino & Co.  Furthermore the Danish balloon clown Larna and Suzanne Berdino and her liberty horses dogs and camels were part of the performance. Also Russian antipodist Svetlana and her hula-hop-dancing daughter Marina could be seen, however not at the Faeroe Islands.

The summer season opened on March 22 at the Bellahoj lot in Circus Arena’s brand new Italian-made Scola Teloni big top with 4 king poles. The tent was a 41 x 49-meter big top with slightly more than 1,700 chairs. Circus owner Benny Berdino claimed that it was the largest circus tent in Scandinavia. Swedish Circus Scott uses at 4-pole tent with a diameter of 46 meter. It takes calculation to figure out if such tent is larger or smaller than Arena’s tent. Circus Benneweis use a tent with at diameter of 42 meter. Circus Dannebrog's tent is 34 meter in diameter. So at least in Denmark Arenas tent is the largest circus tent.

The performance was called GIANT CIRCUS 2003. Arena is today the largest circus in Denmark. Ticket prices were from DKK 110 - DKK 180. DKK 100 is approximately 15.90 $ or 8.70 £ or 13.20 Euro (based on exchange rates 11 April 2004)

The performance ran for 2 hours and was accompanied by a 4-piece band. Circus owner Benny Berdino acted as singing ringmaster and presented the following performers:

Gordon Livesey's orchestra (4 musicians)

Stephan CuraudeauBMX bike

Suzanne and Karsten Berdino – liberty horses

Bonbon – reprise clown

Karl Ramwell – juggler

Ingo Stiebner – sealions

Catana Troupe – teeterboard

The Flying Ciobanu – flying trapeze

Los Sittos (Rivelinos) – clown

Kosowiik’s – trick riding

Bonbon – reprise clown

Sonny Frankello – 4 African elephants

Especially the first part of the performance was very strong. My favourite acts were Ingo Stiebners with his sealions, Frankello’s elephants, the Catana Troups teeterboard act, the juggler Karl Ramwell and BMX-biker Stephan Cureadeau. Closing day for the 2003 tented performance was September 11 in Skaelskor not too far from the shows winter quarter in Slagelse.

From 29 September to 5 October Circus Arena visited the cities Ilulissat, Aasiaat, Sisimiut, Maniitsoq, Nuuk and Sonderstrom on Greenland. All performances was given in sports centres. The performers were French BMX freestyle biker Stephan Curaudeau, the juggler Karl Ramwell and the clown Bonbon. All three of them toured with Arena during the summer season. Engaged just for the Greenland tour was Miss Bernadette (arial ballet) and the clowns Martino & Co. (Martin and Bettina Arli). Alexander Arli performed with ladder balancing. Futhermore there was a foot juggling act and a hula-hoop act. The singing circus owner Benny Berdino presented the performance.

As previous years circus owner Benny Berdino had connections with 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.

From 14 June to 10 August Benny Berdino produced a short circus performance in "Bon­Bon-land" - an amusement park 40 miles southwest of Copenhagen. Among the performers were the 3 Brazilian daredevils from the Diorios troupe in their globe of death. Diorios toured with Circus Arena in 2002.

Circus Arli:

Tiny Circus Arli opened its 32nd season on 6 April in Flong, near Copenhagen. The performance was accompanied by taped music and presented by circus owner Soren Arli The performance ran for almost 2 hours.

Welcome in Circus Arli  - entire company

Alexander Arli – ladder balancing

Mr. Mystic (Martin Arli)  - magician

Bettina Arli – dog training

Oksana – contortion (female partner in Duo Lorenz

Martin Arli – musical entertainer

Blues Brothers – acrobats

Duo Lorenz  - adagio acrobats

Alexander Arli - juggler

Martino & Co. (Martin and Bettina Arli)  - clowns

Sachas – bike act (same artist as Duo Lorenz)

Circus Arli tou­red Zea­land during the en­tire season. Closing day was in September. Ticket prises were from DKK 60 to DKK 100.

On 30 April 2003 Soren Arli could celebrate his golden jubilee as artist. His debut as an artist in 1953 took place at the variety theatre Alhambra. A couple of years later Soren together with his Lotte, née August (a half-sister to award winning Danish movie director Bille August) created a comical juggling act called Lott and Arli. Furthermore Soren performed as whiteface clown and Lotte did thought reading using the artist name Madame Zarina. With acts like those Soren and Lotte toured with circuses among those the Danish circuses Moreno and Arena. As many artists Soren and Lotte Arli had a dream about establishing their own circus. In 1971 their dream came through when they opened Circus Arli in a tiny 1-pool big top they had made themselves. The staff consisted of Soren, Lotte and their son Martin (born 1960). The first two seasons was spent in Jutland Mini Zoo in Haustrup. Since 1973 Soren Arli and his circus has toured Zealand with a two pole tent with a seating capacity of 149 people. Family members do the acts: Martin and his wife Bettina, their son Alexander (born 1987) assisted by a couple of foreign artist of good standard.

Circus Benneweis:

Benneweis' winter quarter is in Dronningmol­le 30 miles north of Copenhagen. Opening day for the show's 116th season was April 3 in Hillerod 20 miles north of Copenhagen. The tent was from 1996 - 42 meter (137 feet) in diameter with 4 king poles and with chairs on all seats. Ticket prices were from DKK 100 - DKK 180.

From opening day until late September Circus Benneweis toured Zealand, Isle of Funen and Jutland. On 23 august Benneweis was back on Zealand where the season closed with the traditional visit to Copenhagen (Bellahoj) from 29 August to 7 September.

The performance ran for 2 hours 15 minu­tes and was accompanied by a 5-piece band.

Diana Benneweis on horseback- "Welcome to CIRCUS BENNEWEIS!”

Fumagalli & Darix - Reprise/Entrée Clowns


Fumagalli & Darix - Reprise/Entrée Clowns

DUO URUNOV-DZEN - Aerial Ring/Voltige


GLEN NICOLODI - Handstand Equilibristic

STEVEN PEDERSEN - Sealion and Penguin Training

Fumagalli & Darix - Reprise/Entrée Clowns

The Novikovs - Horizontal Bar Acrobatic

Double face - Diabolo Juggling

TYRANA & RONALD SPINDLER - Elephant Training

Fumagalli & Darix assisted by MAREK BENNEWEIS - Reprise/Entrée Clowns

DUO URUNOV-DZEN - High-School/Horse Dressage

As previous years there was no ringmaster.

It was a very nice performance with the outstanding clown Fumagalli as main attraction. But Novikov’s, Glen Nicolodi and his dog, Menestrellis dog training and Steven Petersens sealions is also worth to mention.

During the season there was discussions in the Danish newspapers regarding use of elephants and sealions in circuses. Diana Benneweis did not become too popular amongst other circus owners when she stated that she very well could do without elephants and sealions and would not object to a prohibition. Benny Berdino, Haddy Enoch and Soren Arli started an action to avoid a prohibition. The Danish Ministry of Justice is still considering the matter. However at least in 2004 there is no prohibition against elephants in circuses in Denmark.

Copenhagen Circus Building:

Sadly enough this fine building was not used for circus performances in 2003.

On 25 June Cafe Wallmans opened in the foyer to Circus Building. Cafe Wallmans is decorated with posters and photos from the many circuses and artist who have performed at the Circus Building. Thus a visit to Cafe Wallmans is almost a must for every circus freak visiting Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Circus Building is situated in downtown Copenhagen close to the Tivoli Garden and the Town Hall Square. Several of the posters and photos in Cafe Wallmans are provided by the Circus Museum at Hvidovre, Copenhagen or are from the collection of the Swedish Circus Academy. Tino Rivoro who for several years worked as trapeze acrobat with Ringling has been in charge of the decoration.

From 1 November to 20 December the new tenant in the Copenhagen Circus Building Wallmans Nöjen presented a magical show "Expect the Unexpected" with the Swedish star magician Joe Labero who for the time being probably in an international perspective is the most well-known magician from the Nordic Countries.


Circus Charlie

Circus Charlie was established in 1988 by Einar Trie. For the 2003 season Circus Charlie used a 4-pole tent seating 400 people. Amongst the performers in 2003 were the clowns Red and Blue, Miss Magic, artist from Scandi Balti Circus School in Latvia and the clown Charlie (alias circus owner Einar Trie).

Season opened on 6 April in Frederikshavn and closed on 14 September in Aalborg. Most of the season was spent in the northern part of Jutland.

From 23 to 28 June circus owner Einar Trie was in charge of a Circus Summer Camp in Frederikshavn in the northern part of Jutland for children from 10 to 21 years.

Circus Dannebrog:

It was Haddy Enoch's 27th season as owner of Circus Dannebrog. Performing artists at this year's performance were:

Vicky and Hans Pedersen – 4 sealions and 2 penguins

Miss Martina – handstand

Irina & Jury Koisncev – reprice clowns

Freddy Antony  - musical entertainer and magician

Bernhard Casselly – African elephant

Katja Enoch – liberty horses

Isabella Enoch and Malanie & Josephine – rotating trapeze

Liubas – hand voltige

Irinich Doinitza  - dog training

Dascal Troupe  - skipping

Kaselowskys – camel training

The Haddies Jr.Jr. (Jimmy, Edward and David Enoch) – bicycle act

(Liubas same as Dascal Troupe; Bernhard Casselly same as Bernhard Kaselowsky)

Haddy Enoch's daughter oldest Agnete Louise Enoch acted as ringmistress.

The 2002-performance was nice. Especially worth to mention was The Hadies Jr.Jr. and the clowns Irina & Jury Koisncev’s plate spinning act. The audience liked the musical entertainer Freddy Anthony.  Bernhard Casselly presented assisted by his daughter his elephant Rambo (22 years old) in a spectacular performance and his camels in a show combined with cloud swing (cloud swing performed by one of the riders and not by the camels!). Liubas hand voltige act was nice and so was the Lilliputian Irinich Doinitza’s act with poodles.

During the season Bernhard Casselly acquired an additional 32-year-old elephant named Baby.

The performance took place in the ring and at a stage.

Opening day was on 27 March in Vojens. Vojens is close to Circus Dannebrog's winter quarters in Toustrup Molle. Dannebrog advertise them as "The national circus of Denmark".

The performance run for 2 hours 25 minutes and was accompanied by taped music. The tent was from 1998 - 34 meter in diameter with 4 king poles and 8 quarter poles and with chairs on all seats.

The season started in Jutland. August and September brought the show to Zealand with a stay in Copenhagen from 29 August to 21 September. Closing day was on 27 September in Vamdrup.

Under the name Circus Kenny Haddy Enoch produced an indoor performance during the school childrens winter holiday in February and again during the autumn holidays in October 2003 in a shopping mall in Odense. Amongst the performers in February was Belgian Sandrine Bové with her dogs, the Finnish juggler Calle Jernström (son of circusowner Carl-Gustaf Jernström of Circus Finlandia) and the musical clowns di Lellos (Alan and Jeany di Lello). Amongst the performers in October were Hans and Vicky Pedersen with their 4 sealions, the Russian clowns Irina & Jury Kosincev, the foot juggler Miss Franza and Dubsky’s football dogs.

Circus Mascot

Jess and Marianne Deleuran own tiny circus Mascot with a seating capacity of 260. It was the shows 10th season. The performance run for 2 hours and was accompanied by taped music.  Opening day was on 3 April. The season closed on 30 September. In July Circus Mascot was free attraction in “Sommerland Sjaelland” an amusement park at Zealand.

5-years old Andreas (Jess and Marianne’s youngest son) opened the performance with a nice little song. Then came Tatyana with hula-hoop, the juggler Zdenek and Marianne Deleuran with her poodles. Then Zdenek was back with plate spinning. Daniel (Marianne and Jess’s oldest son being 13) presented a rola-bola act. After the interval Tatyana was back this time under the name Prymarchenko and with a nice act in tissue. Then Daniel was back on slack wire. Jess Deleuran presented his ponies. Then we meet Miss Maria with a fine act in arial ring. Clowning was done by Gulio.

Ringmaster was circus owner Jess Deleuran

All in all it was a very nice performance. Especially I liked the acts performed by Zdenek, his wife Maria and Gulio the clown.

In February and October Circus Mascot presented indoor performances in shopping malls.

Circus Krone

Opening day for tiny Circus Krone (no connection with the large German show!) was on 10 April in Haarup, Jutland where Krone has its winter quarter. Amongst the performers in 2003 were a musical act called ”Los Cauchos” from Ukraine and a bike act performed by Voronin Andrey. Misi was supt. Canvas and presents a dog act. Eva Varadi presented her antipode (foot juggling) act. Circus owner Irene Thierry’s husband Jan Allan presented liberty horses and performed as the clown Alando.

Season closed on 19 September.

Circus Krone visited Dublin in Ireland from 22 October to 5 November and was also active in Denmark with performances in shopping malls etc before and after the tented summer season.

Circus Baldoni

René Marvin Moenster used the name the Circus-theatre from 1998 to 2001. In 2002 he changed the name to Circus Baldoni. For 2003 René bought a “new” tent in Germany of the same size as the old one being 26 meter in diameter and with a seating capacity of 500. The “new” tent was 5 or 6 old but in a much better shape than old tent.

Opening day was on 12 April and the season closed at 28 September. Circus Baldoni travelled at a total 3,500 kilometres and visited 147 cities and gave 156 performances.

Many of the prerformers in 2003 were the same as in 2002, however most of them with new acts: The skipping Baltics, Jane in an arial act, the clown Ploppi, Bro Brothers in aerial straps and as comical cascadeurs, The Barbie Family, plate spinning jugglers, Tatjana handstand acrobat, Katya in an arial act and circus owner Rene Marvin himself as magician and ventriloquist.

From 27 October to 5 November Circus Baldoni visited 8 villages on the Faeroe Islands. Local sport clubs sponsored the tour. The performers were circus owner René Marvin (magician and ventriloquist), the female clown Karla and some of the acrobats from Latvia who toured with Circus Baldoni during their summer season.

In the autumn Circus Baldoni rented at new winter quarter at a former manor at Tureby 35 miles south of Copenhagen.

Other shows in Denmark:

If you in the summer 2003 visited the western part of Jutland and passed the beach resort Sondervig close to Ringkobing you meet a tiny tent called Cirkaos. Apart from some animals there were two performers: the artists Venzel Zalmov and Ilone Björkman presenting what they call a Musicomedy Show with no spoken words. They hoped to attract the many tourists visiting Sondervig, most of the tourist being Danes, German, Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians and English. However the season did not give many full houses! The tent was a two-pole tent with a diameter of 17 meter (57 feet).

The Danish New-wave circus school AFUK in Copenhagen presented a small summer festival on 20 and 21 June 2003 with new wave circus, performance, crossover etc. AFUK was also involved in a performance called Untamed Circus Grandprix at the Kanonhallen concert house in Copenhagen from 12 to 15 July. Among the performers were students from AFUK’s circus school and artist and performers from the new wave group Nova Exit and Danish aerial cradle Duo Aerius.

A number of small shows performed at shopping malls or toured Denmark during the holiday season.

As previous years Benny Schumann (grandson of the late clown Charlie Rivel) presented several one-man-shows.

More than 10,000 people saw one of the 3 outdoor performances given from 22 to 24 July in Aalborg, Odense and Roskilde by Benny Schumann and his guest artist from Swedish Ludvika Young Stars Minicircus. And none in the audience was disappointed: Benny himself is well known and popular among children all over Denmark and the young Swedish artist were very talented. The bike act Cycling Triss was surely a first class act. 4 Goldies presented nice acrobatics on a table (the same table as their trainer Barbro Nordström used in her time as an artist). An act with 4 young girls performing with tubes was a new and fascinating way of using such props. Benny Schumann plans to bring back the Ludvika Young Stars Circus in 2004 or 2005.

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 2003 festival was held 7 to 17 August. Benny Schumann awarded The World Artist and Clown Award to Kotini Jr. and the Golden Nose to Fumagali and his brother Darix (Gianni and Darius Huesca).

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen presented as always some fine acts as free attractions. During the season we saw Laszlo Simet (Giant Wheel), Sharkov Brothers (Partner Equilibristic), Duo Aragorn (Aerial Voltige), Consuello Reyes (Foot-Juggling), Duo Sorellas (Double Trapeze), Kris Kremo (Gentleman Juggling), Jidinis & Magic Co. (Illusionist/Magic Show) and The Simets (High-Wire).

In memoriam:

In January Danish handstand acrobat Elvard ”Elwardo” Johansson passed away 77 years of age. In his younger days he was internationally well known and had performed with celebrities as Marlene Dietrich and Edit Piaf. His son Nick Olander is chairman of The Danish Artist Union

Danish Magician Poul Preben Kjeldsen passed away on 22 April 2003, 93 years old. As magician he was known as ”The New Kjeldsen”.

The circus year in review - Denmark 2003 was published 11 April 2004

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