Friday, 19th April 2019


A circus is a travelling theatre company of performers that focuses less on dramatic performance but rather on acrobatics and more unusual forms of entertainment. Performers may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and entertainers. Circuses will put on shows in different places, which usually involve a series of different acts choreographed to music.

Circus companies move from place to place quite frequently and are not confined to the UK. International circuses may travel abroad, putting on performances in cities around the world.

The first circus dates back to Ancient Rome. England embraced circus performances, which used to be the domain of travelling gypsies from Europe, where the first exhibition is believed to have taken place on January 9th, 1768 in London. Victorian England was especially excited by the circus and ever since it has been a common and famous form of entertainment.

Circus companies can vary is style and format. They may have moved away from the traditional circus tour which performs in large circular tents with a ring master, and are now seen in much smaller and more informal arrangements Circuses still continue to employ a large amount and variety of performers, and there are opportunities for temporary performers as well as full-time.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has a useful webpage on the history of circus in the UK.