YESTERDAY'S TOWNS

HOWDY, MY NAME IS BILL STRONG, I'LL BE YOUR "24 HOUR MAN", ROUTING YOU INTO THE PAST TO SEE WHAT THE CIRCUS WAS IN DAYS GONE BY. IF YOU'RE LIKE ME, AND MISS WHAT IT USED TO BE, THEN COME ON ALONG AS WE GO DOWN THE ROAD FOLLOWING THE ARROWS BACKWARDS, TO "YESTERDAY'S TOWNS"! IF YOU HAVE CIRCUS RELATED PICTURES YOU WOULD LIKE POSTED, SEND THEM TO,,,,yesterday1@verizon.net,,,,AND WE WILL TRY TO FIT THEM IN. "24 HOUR MAN" WILL HAVE THE FINAL DECISION ON POSTING.

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Location: GIBSONTON, FLORIDA, United States

Three years at CWM made me a real traditionalist, and I keep remembering Bob Parkinson saying, "I want the people to see what the circus used to be, not what it is today. That's what this site is about!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

THE THREE BARS #2:

From among so many barrists it was inevitable that imagination would eventually create many innovations. What with the flying trapezes evolving into vogue, the triple bar artists began inaugurating variations of their own such as: the "cradle" with a catcher set high either between two bars or in the place of the 3rd bar; the combination bar-and-trapeze, with such variations as bar-to trapeze-to-cradle passes; and the trampoline either under three bars and/or anyone of the cradle combinations.

Needles to say that any and all of those new variations made it possible for the barrists to execute many new spectacular routines! Nevertheless, when it came to public applause, the very best of them still could not compete with the trapezists. But then it was also inevitable that some imaginative barrist would eventually "reach for the moon" - by rigging his three bars high in the air over the same net used by the trapezists. Thus came the birth of the aerial bars!

Who was the first barrist to conceive this innovation has never been settled with any degree of certainty. European historians are inclined to credit Avolos, while their American colleagues claim that as far back as 1891, such acts as Petit, McVey & Ryan, Primrose & Pickett and Dunham & Marlo were already presenting the aerial bars in the States, as high as 20 feet above a net stretched 10 feet above ground.

It would be difficult to dispute either claim, for the existing documentation is too fragmentary to ascertain who did what and when - and a present day research of the chronicles of three quarters of a century ago also fails to disclose anything relevant that would verify the facts and/or discard the fiction.

Only one major fact has been ascertained. After the first aerial bar act had made its initial appearance, it was but a short time later that a veritable host of imitators moved their three bars from terra firma to higher and higher riggings over a net. Some like Trojan Luppu, Vermette & Dionne, Vlademir Poppescu and Rudolf Egelman remained "purists" of the original art.

But many others added routines with the "cradle" to their repertoires. At one time, the Luppus extended their rigging to as many as 9 bars. Much later, the Ibarra Bros. went to 5 bars - with 2 of them straddling above the 3 below. In between, the Avolos had even gone to the extreme of setting up some of their bars vertically!

Perhaps the most sensational combination of aerial display was the one created by Alfred Court, then known as The Egeltons. Around 1907, when Alfred and his brother Jules presented their first circus in Marseilles, he organized what can be labelled the most complicated aerial rigging ever witnessed above a circus ring!

In the very center of the rigging were the customary 3 bars, plus a catcher's cradle at each end. From the one cradle, the Jupiters did their routines, while the Egeltons simultaneously duplicated the same routines from the other cradle. From the 3 center bars, both Alfred Court and Alfred Lexton also executed their peerless feats, plus a number of passes from the end bars to their respective catchers on the cradles. Whatever has ever been accomplished on the triple bars and/or the cradle, all six of those remarkable barrists executed any and all of the most difficult routines with the precision of masters! - which each was.

But to further enhance the display, the flying trapezes of The 3 Rainats were also rigged crosswise of the bars, making their flying passes under the bars! To top all this, Madame Rainat and La Corsari, two attractive aerialists, did single traps routines above the other 9 performers! To this day, there never has been such a display of variety put together into one single aerial act! And when one considers the artistry of each of the 11 performers, this was indeed the most sensational aerial act ever displayed!

From among so many barrists it was inevitable that imagination would eventually create many innovations. What with the flying trapezes evolving into vogue, the triple bar artists began inaugurating variations of their own such as: the "cradle" with a catcher set high either between two bars or in the place of the 3rd bar; the combination bar-and-trapeze, with such variations as bar-to trapeze-to-cradle passes; and the trampoline either under three bars and/or anyone of the cradle combinations.

Needles to say that any and all of those new variations made it possible for the barrists to execute many new spectacular routines! Nevertheless, when it came to public applause, the very best of them still could not compete with the trapezists. But then it was also inevitable that some imaginative barrist would eventually "reach for the moon" - by rigging his three bars high in the air over the same net used by the trapezists. Thus came the birth of the aerial bars!

Who was the first barrist to conceive this innovation has never been settled with any degree of certainty. European historians are inclined to credit Avolos, while their American colleagues claim that as far back as 1891, such acts as Petit, McVey & Ryan, Primrose & Pickett and Dunham & Marlo were already presenting the aerial bars in the States, as high as 20 feet above a net stretched 10 feet above ground.

It would be difficult to dispute either claim, for the existing documentation is too fragmentary to ascertain who did what and when - and a present day research of the chronicles of three quarters of a century ago also fails to disclose anything relevant that would verify the facts and/or discard the fiction.

Only one major fact has been ascertained. After the first aerial bar act had made its initial appearance, it was but a short time later that a veritable host of imitators moved their three bars from terra firma to higher and higher riggings over a net. Some like Trojan Luppu, Vermette & Dionne, Vlademir Poppescu and Rudolf Egelman remained "purists" of the original art.

But many others added routines with the "cradle" to their repertoires. At one time, the Luppus extended their rigging to as many as 9 bars. Much later, the Ibarra Bros. went to 5 bars - with 2 of them straddling above the 3 below. In between, the Avolos had even gone to the extreme of setting up some of their bars vertically!

Perhaps the most sensational combination of aerial display was the one created by Alfred Court, then known as The Egeltons. Around 1907, when Alfred and his brother Jules presented their first circus in Marseilles, he organized what can be labelled the most complicated aerial rigging ever witnessed above a circus ring!

In the very center of the rigging were the customary 3 bars, plus a catcher's cradle at each end. From the one cradle, the Jupiters did their routines, while the Egeltons simultaneously duplicated the same routines from the other cradle. From the 3 center bars, both Alfred Court and Alfred Lexton also executed their peerless feats, plus a number of passes from the end bars to their respective catchers on the cradles. Whatever has ever been accomplished on the triple bars and/or the cradle, all six of those remarkable barrists executed any and all of the most difficult routines with the precision of masters! - which each was.

But to further enhance the display, the flying trapezes of The 3 Rainats were also rigged crosswise of the bars, making their flying passes under the bars! To top all this, Madame Rainat and La Corsari, two attractive aerialists, did single traps routines above the other 9 performers! To this day, there never has been such a display of variety put together into one single aerial act! And when one considers the artistry of each of the 11 performers, this was indeed the most sensational aerial act ever displayed!

PHILLIP SHEVETTE, CLAUDE NEWELL, & ZENOBLE SHEVETTE, KNOWN AS THE ORLOFF BROS. AS THEY APPEARED IN THE LATE 1890s IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RAYMOND MELZORA.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello My name is Melzora Towne. I am trying to find any information on the meaning of the name and any information on Melzora Rosele Hooper. She was said to be part Native American.
My e-mail is Lividity@cox.net Please contact me with the heading melzora hooper.

5/14/2008 6:14 AM  

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