The circus year in review - Denmark 2001

By Ole Simonsen


7 tented circuses toured Denmark from late March/early April to September: 3 large: Circus Arena, Circus Ben­neweis and Circus Dannebrog and 4 dog and pony-shows (what Americans calls high grass circuses): Circus Arli, Cirkusteatret, Circus Krone and Circus Mascot.


Further­more there was a number of small shows touring more or less regularly: Circus Charlie, Circus Panik, Circus Petit, Circus Julius & Co., Circus Bella Donna, Circus Shanghai etc.


Some youth organisation produces "circus"-performances with kids as performers, using names as circus Tvaers, circus Flik-Flak, circus Regnbueborn, circus Gelatti, circus Candi, Circus Fup og Fidus, Circus Kanutski, Circus Kaephoj, Circus O'laiski and Circus Sjowtime

Four foreign circuses visited Copenhagen in 2001: Swedish circus Scott, Canadian Cirque du Soleil, French Le Cirque Invisible and Swedish Circus Cirkör.


For many years most Danish circuses has had musicians from Poland. But in 2001 due to a conflict between the Danish Musicians Union and the circus owners no Poles was granted permission to work in a Danish circus band. Circus Arli and Circus Dannebrog used taped music. Circus Arena and Circus Benneweis hired a few English musicians. (According to EU regulations English musicians are entitled to work in Denmark).


The Copenhagen Circus Museum became a reality in 2001. The official opening ceremony was held on 1 September 2001 and on 2 September 2001 the museum opened its doors to the public. The museum includes the Barly collection - more than 100,000 items (mainly photos but also several costumes). Only a small part of the collection is on exhibition.

The museum is situated in a former military camp called Avedorelejren in Hvidovre (suburb to Copenhagen, approximately 12.5 kilometers/8 miles from downtown Copenhagen).


Circus Arena:

Circus owner Benny Berdino could in 2001 celebrate his 25-year anniversary as circus owner.


Circus Arena has its winter quarters near Slagelse 57 miles west of Copenhagen.


Early February Arena presented an indoor circus in some cities in Jutland. Among the performers were The Berdino Magic, Duo Navrátil (jugglers), Larna and Christian (clowns),  Malte Knap (bike act) and Samson (power show).


The summer season opened on March 27 at the Bellahoj lot in Co­pen­hagen where Arena stayed to April 22. The performance was called GIANT CIRCUS 2001. Arena is today the largest circus in Denmark. As in 1998, 1999 and 2000 the show was presented in a large oval 8-pool tent with traditional one-ring set up and with a seating capacity of 1,700 people. As previous seasons Arena had chairs at all the seats. Ticket prices were from DKK 110 - DKK 170. DKK 100 is approximately 11.50 $ or 8.10 £ or 13.20 Euro.


The performance ran for 2 hours 5 minutes and was accompanied by a 4-piece band.  The performance was spectacular with several excellent acts - I especially liked Kourbanovs, Konstantin Mouraview and Duo Dores. Circus owner Benny Berdino presented the performance:


Garcias - "space rocket"

Miller Benneweis - horses

Alexander and Duddar - clowns

Duo Dores - old time acrobats

Folco's dog show

Bonbon and Tiina - clowns

Palazovi troupe - teatherboard

Pablo Garcia - tight wire

Konstantin Mouraview - German wheel

Kourbanovs - foot jugglers

Kim Benneweis - 9 Indian elephants


Benny Berdino closed the performance by singing a song which several years ago was written and composed especially to Circus Arena: "Cirkus, cirkus, cirkus er i byen/kom nu alle fjern og naer" (Circus, circus, come and see the circus/circus is in town today). This song has for several years been used at the start or the end of Arena's performances.


Closing day for the 2001 tented performance was September 16 in Soro, close to the shows winter quarter in Slagelse.


As previous years circus owner Benny Berdino had connections with a show in Sweden called Circus Skratt ("Skratt" is the Swedish word for laughter). Owner of the name SKRATT in Sweden is a Swede, Bo Rönnberg, who as previous years rented the circus, tent and all, from Benny Berdino and toured Sweden spring and autumn (but not summer) with a 6-pole 1,400 chair tent. Most of the performances were sponsored. Benny Berdino's daughter and son-in-law Susanne and Karsten Berdino were in charge of daily management of circus Skratt.


From 23 June to 12 August Benny Berdino pre­sented a circus performance in "Bon­Bon-land" - an amusement park 40 miles south-west of Copenhagen. His daughter Susanne Berdino was in charge of this show. Most of the performers were from circus Skratt.


Circus Arli:

Tiny Circus Arli opened its 31st season on 7 April in Flong, near Copenhagen. The performance was accompanied by taped music. The performance ran for 1 hour 55 minutes.


Circus owner Soren Arli presented the performance. Performers at the beginning of the season were Marie Jimènez (trapeze and tight wire walker), the Zolotukhini acrobats, Sergei (arial act), Mr. Slinky and several members of the Arli family: Alexander Arli as juggler, his mother Bettina Arli with doves, his father Martin Arli as magician and Alexander, Martin and Bettina as the clowns Martino & Co.


Marie Jiménez left the show in the middle of the season due to a sprained shoulder. Lott & Leslie (comedy cascadeurs) replaced her.


Circus Arli tou­red Zea­land during the en­tire season. Closing day was in September. Ticket prises were from DKK 60 to DKK 95.


Circus Benne­weis:

Benneweis' winter quarters is in Dronningmol­le 30 miles north of Copenhagen. Opening day for the show's 114th season was April 5 in Hillerod 20 miles north of Copenhagen. The tent was from 1996 - 42 meter (137 feet) in diameter with 4 king pools and with chairs on all seats. Ticket prices were from DKK 100 - DKK 170.


From opening day until late September Circus Benneweis toured Zealand, Isle of Funen and Jutland. On 18 august Benneweis was back on Zealand where the season closed with the traditional visit to Copenhagen (Bellahoj) from 28 August to 16 September.


Circus Benneweis' 2001 performance was an all-female show called Super Girls. The performance ran for 2 hours 10 minu­tes and was accompanied by a 5-piece band.


Circus owner Diana Benneweis opened the performance on horseback. Russian Trio Trukhini performed in swinging trapeze. Consuela Reyes did her antipodian act. Chinese Chy Mei Ling performed with handstand. Russian Antoschka was in charge of clowning. Russian Elena Kaminskya presented performing house cats. Female members of Italian Folco Family performed with elephants and horses (liberty and high school). The Ludmila Mussina Troup did jump robe and pyramid building acts. At the start of the season juggler Line Caroll was with the show. During the season another juggler, Russian Katarina Kokorina, replaced her.


I found the performance a bit weak (and the orchestra terrible!) at the beginning of the season. At the end of the season both the performance and the orchestra had improved!


My favourite acts were the Folco girls with their elephants, Katarina Kokorina, Consuela Reyes, Anatoschka and Trio Trukhini.


As in 2000 there was no ringmaster.


Copenhagen Circus Building:

Sadly enough this fine building was not used for circus performances in 2001.


The City of Copenhagen owns the building. Present leaseholder is Parken Sport & Entertainment (closely connected with the professional soccer team FCK). The present lease runs out by the end of 2002 and there has been negotiations regarding a new leaseholder. Among the interested parties is Swedish Wallman's Salonger who intent to rebuild the building to a variety theatre. So far no decision has been taken regarding the future leaseholder.


Circus Dannebrog:

It was Haddy Enoch's 25th season as owner of Circus Dannebrog. Performing artists at this year's performance were:

·         The Lazar Troup from Romania with a perch act and an acrobat act ("4 Augustin"). 

·         Vicky - performing house cats, Vicky and her partner Zdenek furthermore presented dogs under the name Duo Victoria.

·         The Luftman Clowns

·         Skating Sayers - roller skate act. The male partner also performed in a wheel of death under the name The Sensational Salskys.

·         Peter Salsky -  magic act

·         The two Novicovis - jugglers

·         Bernhard Kaselowsky - elephant and 6 liberty horses.

·         Isabella Enoch - swing trapeze

·         The Haddies jr.jr.  (Dennie and Jimmi Enoch, Haddy Enoch's son and grandson) presented the family's traditional bike act.

·         Circus owner Haddy Enoch presented horses and ponies.


Haddy Enoch's daughter Agnete Louise Enoch acted as ringmistress. At performances her daughter Victoria Enoch performed in roman rings.


The performance took place in the ring and at a stage.


Opening day was on 29 March in Vojens. Vojens is close to Circus Dannebrog's winter quarters in Toustrup Molle. Dannebrog advertise them as "The national circus of Denmark".


The performance run for 2 hours 25 minutes and was accompanied by taped music. The tent was from 1998 - 32 meter (104 feet) in diameter with 4 king pools and 8 quarter pools. 1022 seats all of them chairs.


The season started in Jutland. August and September brought the show to Zealand with a stay in Copenhagen from 1 to 23 September. Closing day was on 30 September in Rodding.


The 1999-performance were nice but not sensational. My favourite acts were Two Novicovis, Luftman's, Isabella Enoch and Hadies jr.jr. (cykel).


Circus Mascot

Jess and Marianne Deleuran own tiny circus Mascot with a seating capacity of 260. It was the shows 8th season. The performance run for 1 hour 50 minutes and was accompanied by a two piece band. Opening day was on 4 April. The season closed on 1 October. Performers were

·         The Fredies- clowns and jugglers (under the name Nalecski),

·         Duo Carlos (clowns),

·         Duo Binka (rola-rola) and (under the name Halinas) ring perch. Furthermore the male partner did an acrobat act under the name Edwalie,

·         Valerie (juggler),

·         Miss Marianne (Deleuran) with dogs

·         Daniel Deleuran, 11 years old, magic and balloons.

·         Jess Deleuran acted as ringmaster and presented trained ponies.


My favourite act from the performance was Duo Binka - the female partner performed rola-rola on the back of her husband.



Circus Krone

Opening day for tiny Circus Krone (no connection with the large German show!) was on 15 April in Haarup, Jutland. Circus owner Irene Thierry's husband Jan Allan presented horses and acted as a clown under the name Alando. From Cape Town came the trapeze artists Duo Mawendo and from Germany the bike act Trio Lauretti. Furthermore Lee Lauretti performed as magician. Irene Thierry's son Frank Thierry presented a comedy act - and the entire Thierry family a clown act.


Season closed on 22 September.



René Moenster toured with his Circus-theatre, established in 1998. As for the 2000 season Rene Moenster used a 4-pool tent, 24 meter (79 feet) in diameter, with a seating capacity of 500. The performance ran for 1½ hour.


But Lady Luck wasn't good to René Moenster. After the final stand on 16 September he could look back on a terrible season. Everything looked promising when the Circus Theatre opened its season on 2 April with the performance The Emperors New Cloths - the Circus Theatre's best performance ever. But problems soon turned up: bad weather, muddy lots, broken cars and worst of all: a very limited audience. And even if you present a fine show you can't continue if the public won't come. In August Rene Moenster decided to stop touring with the Circus Theatre in a tent after the close of season 2001. Thing became even worse after this decision was taken: his main character Lars Larna, playing the character of the emperor, had to quiet due to illness and later on another staff member left the show. The Circus-Theatre will continue to tour in the winter season with performances in kindergartens, shopping malls etc.


For the tented performance René will in season 2002 use another name: Circus Baldoni.


Other shows in Denmark:


A number of small shows toured Denmark during the holiday season.


Circus Charlie was active part of the season. Among other small shows - most of them with a limited number of performances - were Circus Panik, Circus Petit and Circus Julius & Co.


As previous years Benny Schumann (grandson of the late clown Charlie Rivel) presented several one-man-shows.


19 and 20 May Benny Schumann presented a very fine show celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the City of Hvidovre (a suburb of Copenhagen). Among the performers were Danish trapeze stars Duo Aerius, Cycling Triss on bikes and the contortionist and juggler Tapé.


Benny Schumann has since 1996 been artistic director of The International Clown Festival - now a tradition, held every year in August at Dyrehavsbakken (Denmark's oldest amusement park, 10 miles north of Copenhagen). The year 2001 festival was held 6 - 12 August. Benny Schumann awarded The World Artist and Clown Award to Toto Chabri and the Golden Nose to Les Freres Taquins.


From 29 November to 16 December a Danish New Wave group presented the performance Apropos in Copenhagen. It was a fine performance of a quality which can be compared with the French, Swedish and German new wave circuses which have visited Denmark the later years.


Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen presented as always some fine acts as free attractions. During the season we saw Duo Simet (Motorcycle/Trapeze on high wire), Jidinis & Magic Company (Illusionist/Magic show), Laszlo Simet (Giant Wheel Attraction),
Veniamin ("The Human Slinky"), Florin & Cato (Entrées/Comedy Dog), Diana & Iouri (Adagio on unicycle) and Serge Percelly (Tennis juggling).


Four foreign circuses - 3 of them new wave circuses - visited Copenhagen:


Late April Swedish new-wave circus Cirkör visited Albertslund (a suburb to Copenhagen) with their performance Trix. They presented a fancy new wave show.


Canadian Cirque du Soleil visited Copenhagen first time ever from 26 July to 2 September with the performance Quidam. Approximately 90,000 spectators were impressed by the excellent performance. Among the many talented artist Benjamin Kahan in German wheel, 4 Chinese diabolo players, the tumblers Banquine, acrobats Yved Decoste and Marie-Laure Mesnage and the Les Macloma clowns deserves to be mentioned.


Swedish Circus Scott closed their 2001 season in Copenhagen from 8 to 11 November with a fast-moving performance with several fine acts: the juggler Picasso Jr., Frechette on elastic double wire, Beristov with a perch act. Alexi's presented their globe of death (first time ever we saw such an act in a circus in the Nordic Countries).


The performance ran for 1 hour 40 minutes. Seating capacity was 1.800 people. Ticket prices were from 230 - 285 DKK (almost double price of a Danish circus!) Business in for Scott in Copenhagen were not good: Full house on opening night (but all tickets was given away for free through a Danish newspaper) and very few spectators at the remaining performances. However there was almost no advertising, neither any posters. So how should Danish circus-goers know about Scott in town?


Le Cirque Invisible, a two-person circus-variety with Victoria Chaplin and Jean Baptiste Thierrée visited Denmark for the fifth time in November. Those two unique personalities and artists have created their own magical and poetic world.



In memoriam:


Albert Schumann. The world famous former circus owner and horsetrainer Albert Schumann died on 27 August 2001 86 years of age. Albert Schumann was born in 1915. He followed the family tradition and performed with horses in the family's famous circus Schumann in Denmark and Sweden. When his father Oscar Schumann died in 1954 Albert Schumann together with his one year younger brother Max Schumann took over management of circus Schumann, Albert as altmeister ("senior partner"). As presenter and trainer of liberty horses Albert was second to none. His acts Hungarian Intermezzo from 1962 and Rhapsody in Blue from 1965 are probably the finest horse acts ever presented in a circus. Albert Schumann retired after the 1968 season. He spent the last years of his life in the small Spanish village Cubelles.


The Danish magician Henri Alakazam passed away in August 2001, 66 years old. His real name was Henry Hermansen. For approximately 40 years he toured Denmark, Norway and Sweden with Alakazam Magical Theatre including performances in the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. In 1993 Henri Alakazam served as ringmaster for Danish Circus Fantastico. Fantastico did only tour this season.


Actor and magician Johan Thiersen passed away in April 2001, 80 years of age.


Swedish author Uno Myggan Ericson passed away in June 2001. Myggan was co founder of the Swedish Circus Academy and has written several books on circus and amusement topics. He acted as ringmaster for Circus Benneweis when they were touring Sweden in the early 1980's.



Circus in Denmark

Together with my youngest son Lars I established in August 2000 a homepage called "Circus in Denmark". The what's on section and the news section of the page are updated weekly. The address is Since the opening there have been more than 12,000 hits.


The circus year in review - Denmark 2001 was published 15 March 2002


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