Circus Balkanski: 200 years of tradition are back in Sofia

Written by on March 27, 2017 in Leisure - Comments Off on Circus Balkanski: 200 years of tradition are back in Sofia

Alexander Balkanski , the artistic director of the circus, is a very friendly guy, who will greet a visitor in fluent German, if necessary. He is part of the family which founded Circus Balkanski and has been running it for almost 200 years.

Balkanski’s brother is the technical director. A total of 20 family members, the Balkanski brothers’ wives and children, are the artists. Balance stunts and other tricks are in their genes. So is performance in general. They know the show must go on. And it does.

According to Alexander Balkanski, life inside the circus is peaceful. “Children, who are part of it, learn how to take responsibility early on”, he says. “This is a strong contrast to what is going on in the world out there, in which children play killer games and people are not nice to each other.”

It’s a circus out there. And it is inside the large tent, but in a very different way.

Circus Balkanski on a rainy Election Sunday, in Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Circus Balkanski just came back to its home town Sofia. The preparation for its performances, which start on Thursday, March 30th and end on April 24th, 2017, are on halt right now. That is because the circus is hosting the annual IKAR Awards will be given out tonight.

With the IKAR Awards, which coincide with World Theater Day this time around, the Union of Bulgarian Actors (UBA) honours professional achievements in the field of theater and performing arts. There is even a prize for circus artists, at least one of which will be awarded in a very appropriate location, under the dome of Circus Balkanski. At the same time, the Sofia Theater Festival will be kicked off.

On Sunday, Circus Balkanski was preparing for the IKAR Awards event. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

But, let’s go back to the subject. Once the IKAR Awards are done, things will get back to normal at Circus Balkanski, which thrills its audiences without animals. “Animals are difficult, also because of the laws”, says Alexander Balkanski. Their inclusion is a thing of the past.

Nowadays, laser shows are part of the circus’ programme, along with traditional performances by the Flying Rider, dancers, the Air Globe, pole gymnastics, the Wheel of Death, a water show, a Spanish dance, clowns and a lot more.

Circus Balkanski in Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Circus Balkanski goes back a long way. It was traced back to the year 1820, when Alexander Balkanski’s great-great-great-great grandfather, who had exactly the same name, founded Circus Giuntini, which later became Circus Virginia. In 1916, that circus, which had been run by a later generation, was confiscated. Then, a few years later Circus Rex was founded, which became Circus Levski and then Circus Europe. In 1948, the circus was nationalized and was run as a Bulgarian state circus under communist rule, until 1989.

The Balkanski brothers also performed in Germany for many years, with Circus Krone, after a few years in Denmark, Switzerland, Greece and Italy. Today, the Balkanski family is reunited in Circus Balkanski.

Alexander Balkanski, the artistic director and an artist himself. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

The circus can be found in Sofia, at the Renaissance Park in Zona 5-B. Performances will start on Thursday, March 30, 2017.  Wednesdays through Saturdays, shows start at 16:30 and 19:30 hrs., on Sundays, Circus Balkanski will enchant audiences at 11:00 and 16:30 hrs., with all the art, excitement and tradition this family spreads. It’s in the genes.

 

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com