The International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in awarding its prizes for its 44th edition this 2020 will be warming the heart of its founder Prince Rainier III. His joy, the traditional circus, lives on presided over by Princess Stephanie who herself has received the ultimate prize the Golden Clown in recognition of her dedication to her Grandfather’s passion, the Circus.
The jury of circus professionals, specialists and journalists, under the chairmanship of Princess Stephanie has made its decision for the best circus acts, including awarding the coveted Golden Clown (Clown d’or), Silver Clown (Clown d’argent) and Bronze Clown (Clown de bronze), in the form of statuettes to 2020’s heros.
Looking back over 40 years, recipients of the festival’s prestigious Clown d’or award have included Spanish clown Charlie Rivel in 1974, American daredevil and trapeze artist Elvin Bale two years later, Russian clown Oleg Popov and as recently as 2019 English animal trainer Martin Lacey Jr.
And the animals again came out top; this year the fanfare is for the beautiful prancing horses and a young generation of cavalry aces and trainers from the Knie family (Ivan Frederick Knie, Maicol and Wioris Errani). They ran away with the Golden Clown, in recognition for their work with these wonderfully cared-for horses.
Two other Golden Clowns for jaw-dropping daredevil acts: the acrobats Martinez Brothers and the flying trapeze artists Tuniziani.
Not everyone can win gold, but like the Olympics there is Silver for near perfection. The four Silver Clowns went to Sergey Nesterov and his tigers, to the Shandong acrobatic troop, to the extraordinarily talented Russian champions at the Russian bar, The Dandy’s, directed by the Russian maestro, Alexander Grimaïlo and the Ayala troupe and its clown Henry, “Prince of Clowns” with his extraordinary sense of humour that sent the audience wild with delight.
Racing in for the Bronze Clown awards were five superb acts who will be eyeing silver and gold as Monte Carlo’s Circus heads for a half century of performances. The Bronze winners were Flash of Splash, the Efimov troupe, the Bingo “5 boys” troupe and the Zola troupe from Mongolia Circus.
Young artists have always been revered and encouraged in Monte Carlo and Pauline Ducruet did the honours for tradition on this occasion by presenting Arashi Alan Kofukada of the Martinez Brothers with a cup in memory of Princess Antoinette, which rewards the very youngest artist of the festival.
Crowning the achievements of this 44th Festival were in all three Golden Clowns, four Silver Clowns, four Bronze Clowns and up to as many as 40 special prizes. Only in Monte Carlo! The applause is still ringing in our ears.