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Famous Danish circus families


Arli see facts about circus Arli 

Belli German circus Belli visited Denmark first time in 1888. From 1894 to 1899 Carl Belli visited Denmark with a carnival with seems to have been more like a circus than an amusement park. In 1904 circus Belli Bros. visited Denmark. They also used the name circus Frants Alouis. Belli Bros. might have visited Denmark even before 1904. One of the brothers Giovanni Belli married Danish Meta Jensen in 1908 and circus Belli stayed in Denmark. In 1919 the partnership amongst the Belli brothers was dissolved. Giovanni and his wife Meta stayed in Denmark and formed Circus Giovanni Belli. From 1924 the name was changed to Circus Belli. Giovanni died in 1929 and Mete Belli became sole proprietor. She went into partnership with German Willy Borchardt and from 1930 circus Belli (sometimes using the name Belli-Borchardt) was among the leading circuses in Denmark. The partnership was dissolved in 1933 and Meta Belli became once again sole owner of circus Belli, since 1934 assisted by Fredy Wachman who was considered as Meta's husband although they was never formally married. In the late 30's circus Belli had grown to be the largest Danish circus. In season 1939 the major attraction was American cowboy-movie star Tom Mix. Meta Belli died in 1953 and her circus was sold to investors without any connection to the Belli family. Those investors sold circus Belli to Eli Benneweis (owner of circus Benneweis) in 1955. Circus Belli's last season was in 1957. 


A German musician August Wilhelm Binneweis (1839-1887) toured Denmark with a band called Braunschweiger Bergcapelle from 1858 to 1862. When the band was dissolved he stayed in Denmark where he married Charlotte Altenburg in 1865. Same year Charlotte gave birth to a son Gottfried (1865-1933). The family made their living as travelling musicians.

In 1887 Gottfried Binneweis married Marie Bruun (aprox. 1867-1935). Same year Gottfried Benneweis (the change of spelling might be due to a mistake in public registers) was granted permission from the police to perform as artist and musician and thus circus was enneweis established. It was on the roads every seasin until 2015. 

Gottfried Benneweis died in 1933 and his eldest son Ferdinand Benneweis (1888-1945) became circus owner. In 1915 Ferdinand Benneweis married Irene Petersen (1891-1970) who had worked as performing artist with the circus since 1910. Ferdinand and Irene did not have children of their own. They took a foster child Eli (1911-1993) in 1916. Ferdinand had two children out of wedlock: a son Manfred Benneweis (1919 - 1987) who became a fine trainer of big cats and a daughter Musse Benneweis whose son Sonny Benneweis (1933 -1979) became an outstanding elephant trainer.

Eli Benneweis married German antipodist Eva Stensch (1910-1999) in 1936.

When Ferdinand Benneweis died in 1945 Eli Benneweis became circus owner, in the beginning in partnership with his stepmother Irene. Under Eli Benneweis management circus Benneweis was enlarged and soon became the largest circus in the Nordic Countries. Beside the tented circus Benneweis Eli Benneweis was involved in several other shows: Circus Korona (1948), Circus Belli (1955-57), Circus Buster (1961), Circus Hans Strassburger (Germany 1954), Circus Palmiri-Benneweis (Italy 1957-65), Circus Barum (Germany, 1963-67) and the Copenhagen Circus Building (1970-1990).

In Eli's will circus Benneweis was left to his and Eva's adopted daughter Diana Benneweis (born 1947) whose biological father was Manfred Benneweis. After the 1995 season her two cousins the elephant trainer Kim Benneweis (born 1956) and the horse trainer Miller Benneweis (born 1958) (both of them sons of Sonny Benneweis) left the show apparently after some disagreements with Diana. It could be that they had hoped that Eli Benneweis in his will would have made them part owners of the show. Both Kim and Miller worked from 1997/1998 to 2002 for competing circus Arena. In 2002 Kim Benneweis was boss canvasman at Swedish Circus Scott. In 2004 and 2005 he assisted Diana Benneweis by staging the Benneweis performance. Miller Benneweis worked for part of season 2004 for Circus Dannebrog.

Diana modernised the performance and although circus Arena in the late 1990'ties got a larger tent circus Benneweis was  the most established among the Danish circus presenting a fast-running international performance of high standard.

By the end of season 2015 Diana Benneweis retired from circus business and handed over the management of Circus Benneweis to her twins Dawid and Nadia (born 1987). Circus Benneweis has not toured since 2015 but hope some day to resume its long run.

Berdino see facts about circus Arena 


Theodor Justus Campmann Enoch (1847-1909) was a musician. In 1876 he married Wilhelmine Schultz (1847-1922) and joined the Schulz family's circus, circus Skandinavien, as circus musician. In 1878 and 1880 Theodor Enoch owned circus Skandinavien in partnership with his brother-in-law Emil Kunckel. In 1880 the Danish king granted Theodor Enoch permission to perform as artist and musician. According to family legend Theodor and Wilhelmine established he same year their very own circus Dannebrog assisted by their five children: Peter (born 1877), Louise (born 1879), Georg (born 1881) and the twins Johanne and Dorthea (born 1883).

Dannebrog is the name of the Danish flag as Union Jack is the name of the English flag and Stars and Stripes of the United States Flag.

However, searching newspapers Circus Dannebrog is first time mentioned in 1896. From 1892 to 1895 you can in newspapers read about a variety theatre company Enoch and a tight wire dancer company Enoch. Thus, is seems likely that the name Circus Dannebrog wasn’t used until 1886.

When Theodor Enoch died in 1909 Wilhelmine became owner of circus Dannebrog. Her sons Peter and Georg assisted her. When Wilhelmine died in 1922 ownership was according to some sources transferred to Theodor's and Wilhelmine's to sons Peter and Georg who was in charge of the show until 1928. Other sources claim that Dannebrog closed in 1922. Searching newspapers Circus Danebrog isn't mentioned in the years 1923 -1927.

In 1923, Theodor and Wilhemine's youngest daughter Dorthea and her spouse Alex Reinsch run a circus called Cirkus Reinsch, but with the addition: former Cirkus Dannebrog. This circus survived only a single season.

In 1928, Oscar Eriksen (born 1894) and his wife Eva (born 1897 and niece of Theodor Enoch) for a few months toured a circus called Circus Dannebrog. Oscar Eriksen's Circus Dannebrog was also on tour in 1933. This tour ended in October when the tent, which was set up on a square next to Damhuskroen, was destroyed during a storm.

For a week in 1948 two Danes without any connection to the Enoch family operated an outfit called Circus Dannebrog.

But the family dream about owning a circus survived and in 1977 Haddy Enoch (1934-2009) and his wife Solveig (born 1937) re-established circus Dannebrog using an old tent bought from circus Royal which gave up touring after the 1972-season. Haddy Enoch's father was Haddie Enoch Sr. (born 1900), son of Theodor's and Wilhemine's daughter Louise. Haddy and Solveig had for a number of years performed in other shows with a fine bike act 2 Haddies. When re-establishing their family circus they were assisted by their 4 children: their son Dennie (born 1955) and their 3 daughters: Agnete Louise (born 1956), Isabella (born 1960) and Katja (born 1967) - all four of them being skilled artist, Isabella a very gifted trapeze artist. The first years were pretty rough to circus Dannebrog but later it became a first class circus calling itself the national circus of Denmark. Dennie and Agnete Louse (being ringmistres and press agent and from 2010 also general manager) was been with the show since 1977.

Also Isabella and Katja were with Circus Dannebrog for several seasons.

From 1977 to 2009, Circus Dannebrog was run as a personal-owned company, owned by Haddy Enoch. After Haddy Enoch's death in November 2009, the operation was transferred to a limited company, Cirkus Dannebrog A / S, owned by Solveig Enoch. From season 2016 the 4 Enoch siblings Dennie, Agnete Louise, Isabella and Katja took over the ownership. Season 2016 was not successful and Circus Dannebrog has not toured since that season. In season 2016 Isabella Enoch Sosman established her own circus, Circus Trapez.

Miehe A German musician Heinrich Miehe and his wife Louise, ne Schulz, founded a circus in Denmark in 1884. From 1884 to 1888 they used the name circus Thyland. From 1889 the name was changed to circus Miehe. Owned by family members this show toured Denmark until 1958. Most famous member of the Miehe family is probably the clown August Miehe (1889-1936) - a baggy-pant clown with exaggerated makeup and clothing. This type of clown is often called the auguste named after August Miehe. (Another and maybe more likely explanation of the origin of the name auguste for this type of clown could be that "auguste" in German means a peasant or a clod).

Moreno Willy Moreno (1919-79) and his wife Inga toured circus Moreno from 1948 to 1967. The first 3 seasons he was in partnership with Albert Reinsch under the name circus Moreno & Reinsch. When Willy Moreno bought Reinsch part of the show in 1950 the name was changed to circus Moreno. In 1965 the late world clown Charlie Rivel toured with Circus Moreno. Also the Danish trapeze star Greta Frisk who later went to the USA where she for several years performed with circus Clyde Beatty/Cole Bros. performed with Moreno.

Schumann From an international point of view the Schumann family is probably considered as the most famous circus family from Denmark. The German circus owner Gotthold Schumann (1825-1898) visited Copenhagen first time in 1871. Circus Schumann Bros. was founded in 1914 by Gotthold Schumanns three grandsons: Willy (1880-1936), Ernst (1884-1960) and Oscar (1886-1954). They took their show into the Copenhagen Circus Building for the 1916-season. They were back in 1918 and used the building every summer season until 1937. From 1943 to 1969 circus Schumann was back in the Copenhagen Circus Building. From 1954 The circus belonged to the brothers Albert (1915 - 2001) and Max (1916-2004). Albert was married to Pauline Rivel (daughter of the famed clown Charlie Rivel). Albert, Pauline and Max were excellent horse trainers. Albert and Max presented liberty acts and Pauline rode high school and "Schumannship" became synonymous with horse acts being second to none. 

From 1977-1982 to Max Schumann travelled with his own circus called M. Schumann assisted by his children Katja (born 1949) and Philip (born 1953). 

After the circus closed Katja Schumann went to America where she married Poul Binder of New Yorks circus Big Apple. Max Schumann joined her in 1992 at Big Apple Circus. Katja, Max and Katja's two children Katherine Schumann Binder and Max Schumann Binder were members of the Big Apple company until spring 2004 when Katja and Poul Binder divorced. Until 2007, Katja orked for  Circus Flora from St. Louis, Missouri, which like the Big Aple Circus, is a one-ring circus that focuses on high-quality acts. In 2007, she returned to Denmark, where she worked for Circus Dannebrog and Circus Mascot. Since 2016, Katja Schumann has run the Circus farm on Vrenstedvej 287 in Lkken in the northern part of Jutland, Denmark. During the summer months there are daily performances.

Also Katja Schumann's cousin Benny Schumann (born 1945, son of Albert and Pauline and grandson of the famous clown Charlie Rivel) is still active in Danish show business.

Benny Schumann was trained as a horse-trainer, rider and multi-artist in the Schumann Circus, Copenhagen. 1967 saw the premiere of his juggler act with plate spinning and glass bowls. After the circus season in the same year he left the family circus to go on tour with the juggler act in Europe, the United States, Canada and Africa during the following ten years under the name Ric Benny.

In 1980 Benny Schumann and his wife Marianne started to perform in Denmark with an artist and clown show. 1984 saw the premiere of Benny's one-man show "The Clown", in which he performs as juggler, ventriloquist, tightrope walker, magician and clown with music and gags written by himself.

In addition to perform with his one-man show Benny Schumann was from 1996 to 2006  artistic director of The International Clown Festival, which in those years was held every year in August at Dyrehavsbakken (Denmark's oldest amusement park, north of Copenhagen).  From 2008 to 2012, Bakken instead offered international clowns, presented by Benny Schumann. Since then the have neither been arttist or clowns at Bakken.

Link to Benny Schumann's homepage: www.schumann.dk (languages: Danish and English)


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