The Most Important Circus Festival in the World has turned 50 as we rolled up in hoards to see the death-defying acrobats, and the hilarious clowns that have had us all in stitches. The International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo has brought us awe, light-heartedness and not a few surprises. The biggest Circus festival on the planet has not only celebrated its 50th anniversary with us, it is closing the centenary commemorations for Prince Rainier III, the founder of the Festival.
So we now can celebrate which of the 150 artists from around the world have won the prestigious awards that will boost their careers on the international stage. And the superbly talented artists of the 46th International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo and the 11th New Generation are themselves about to be serenaded and receive their accolades with a presentation of their awards under the big top at Espace Fontvieille.
Who is the big winner, the winner of the Golden Clown? On this 50th anniversary there had to be a surprise, didn’t there? There was not just one big winner but three! Imagine: Three Golden Clowns, considered the Oscars of the Circus World, have been announced for the 50th anniversary of the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo.
Charles and Alexandre Gruss received the award for their horse juggling act, a moving tribute to the Gruss family legacy.
The second Golden Clown went to the Kolev Sisters, Michelle and Nicole, for their hand-to-hand performance, which has also wowed audiences at Cirque du Soleil. Aged 22 and 24 their performance was breath-taking.
So many of us were rooting for the elephants. And they didn’t disappoint earning the third Golden Clown recognizing the work of their trainers Elvis and Cvetomira Errani.
A Princely tradition
Prince Rainier III loved gathering people together for fun-filled events. It was he who decided to create a festival to support circus traditions and circus families. The 1st International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo was born in 1974, in a big top installed on what was then the Esplanade de Fontvieille at the foot of the Prince’s palace. It was the very first circus festival of its kind ever presented in the Western world. Prince Rainier himself wrote the foreword for the festival’s first program.
“This International Circus Festival was created thinking of the circus community, of this family of underestimated people, so that you, attentive spectators of their efforts and of their work, could know them better, and celebrate them better,” wrote Prince Rainier III in 1974.
Well we can celebrate not only three Golden Clowns but also three Silver Clowns for Duo Disar, the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe, and the Amaraa Troupe.
Not to mention five Bronze Clowns to Aleksei Goloborodko (contortionist), White Gothic (balancing act), Pneumatic Arts (trapeze), the Addis Abeba troupe (“banquine” acrobatics) and the Extreme Light dancers.
Children are the Future
Prince Rainier loved children and immersed himself in their delight for the Circus and the fairy tale world that it creates for them. Days before the circus festival began, a special concert for children, took place at the Auditorium Rainier III. The musicians’ agenda included a selection of works by the likes of Nino Rota (the Godfather composer), Alfred Schnittke, Charlie Chaplin, Aram Khachaturian and Dmitri Shostakovich. And sweet story telling of a circus artist who lived one of the most beautiful circus adventures in the world. (Actor Joan Mompart and sand artist Marina Sosnina presenting).
And so prizes for young artists take on a special importance which included the cup in memory of Princess Antoinette which was awarded to eight year old Venicia Gruss-Florees, the youngest artist of the Festival.
There is the special New Generation category, of course, which is a festival its own, with all the up and coming young entire circus acts. The jury awarded 17 year old Wang Mengchen from the Jiangsu Acrobatic Troupe with a Golden Junior, awarded Trixie Zavatte who wowed with her equilibrist act on a hoverboard the Silver Junior, and Taissyia Demidova the Bronze Junior.
Tribute to the festival’s creator
The 46th Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival is a special heartfelt tribute to its creator, Prince Rainier III. The Prince’s legacy continues to live on with the much-loved festival that has become an unparalleled staple in the international circus community for five decades.
What better way to close the Prince’s centenary year of celebrations than with the most important circus festival in the world?
And think of Princess Stéphanie who inherited Prince Rainier’s love for the Circus. President of the festival since 2005, Princess Stéphanie oversees the planning of the competitions and gala shows.
And so Princess Stéphanie was also in the spotlight as Société des Bains de Mer decided to award its prize to her. And not to forget Dr Alain Frère tasked at the very origin of the Circus Festival by Prince Rainier to make it happen and make it as wonderful as it has become. The European Circus Association showed its appreciation of Dr Alain Frère’s unique contribution with its prize.
Do you want to see the additional 43 special awards that were presented on Sunday evening? Follow the link to uncover the whole list.