A Brief History of the Circus | Royal Canadian International Circus | Mall of America – Minneapolis, MA | April 13-23, 2023

Excitement is brewing! The Royal Canadian International Circus (RCIC) is set to kick off its 2023 tour on April 13th in Mall of America in Minneapolis, MA. Circus lovers are in for an exhilarating experience, as this year’s circus will feature an incredible showcase of elite circus artists from across the world.  The event is designed for multi-generational families – everyone can enjoy our truly affordable show regardless of age.

198 shows have been scheduled from April to October 2023. The Circus will start in Minneapolis and visit cities throughout Western and Eastern Canada. Two new U.S. locations have been added to the tour this year; the American Dream Mall in New Jersey and the Peachtree Mall in Columbus, Georgia. Please visit the RCIC website for a full schedule of cities and dates.

To help deepen your appreciation for our traditional, Big Top circus, we are going to share with you a few historical changes the circus has undergone over time.

The Addition of New Circus Acts Started the Ball Rolling

The modern circus began in the 18th century with Phillip Astley. Astley was a professional horse rider and thus the first documented circus mainly focused on equestrian stunts. This was before the common circus features we see today like clowns, acrobats, and rings were added.

Astley’s tricks were not his inventions, but he was the first to create a venue for his acts in front of an audience. He dubbed the performance arena a ‘Circle’ and the building an ‘amphitheater’. In time, the arena and amphitheatre became known as the Circus.

Other performances like plate-spinning and pole balancing were introduced by French circus manager Louis Soullier who saw the ideas in action in China. In addition, the mainstream clown was introduced by Joseph Grimaldi with his role of Little Clown in the pantomime “The Triumph of Mirth, or Harlequin’s Wedding,” in 1781. The flying trapeze was introduced by another French performer, Jules Leotard, in 1859.

The Traveling Circus | The Adoption of Nomadic Lifestyle

In the 1800s, the United States was expanding its territory westward at a dramatic pace. This was around the same time as the circus was being brought to North America from Europe.

The first modern circus in the United States was founded in Philadelphia by John Bill Ricketts in 1793. The circus toured from Montreal to Havana in the first two decades of the 19th century. Joshuah Purdy Brown was the first to use a large tent for his circus in 1825. Because tents were easier to use, they slowly replaced circus buildings and open spaces.  The invention of the railroad system further accelerated this change and helped the circus reach larger audiences.

While some modern circuses travel, others make regular appearances on-stage in the same few cities. Chances are, the show you purchase circus tickets online for will be held in a stationary building. However, the appearance of the traveling circus tent is so iconic in our culture that it is still used today to represent the show.

The Royal Canadian International Circus not only performs under the iconic Big Top tent – it is also a veritable “travelling circus”.

There’s an unquestionable universal charm to the circus, proven by how nearly every region in the world has adopted it. Originally, the trend spread from Paris to other nations thanks to producers Charles Hughes (who started the Royal Circus in London) and John Rickette (founder of many North American circuses).

The Exclusion of Exotic Animals

When thinking about the circus, it is easy to associate it with decorated elephants, swinging monkeys, and tigers jumping through hoops.  Exotic animals have been a major part of the circus shows since the mid-1800s.

Today, concerns over animal rights have deterred circus productions from including exotic animals. Royal Canadian International Circus DOES NOT have any exotic or endangered animals or species in its shows or use them in our acts. We transitioned to our new and current format 6 years ago and received 94% positive feedback in our post-show surveys.

Royal Canadian International Circus 2023 | Purchase Circus Tickets Online

Purchase your circus tickets today using our secure online portal. Plush ringside and VIP tickets can also be purchased online. The Royal Canadian International Circus looks forward to seeing you there. Bring the entire family and experience the once in a lifetime thrill of  a traditional, old-fashioned circus under the Big Top!

January 22, 2024
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