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Circus in exile: how performers live and act at the Dybenko chapiteau during renovations at Fontanka


Performances of the Fontanka circus are now taking place at the temporary chapiteau at the Esenin Park, while the main building goes through capital renovations. Performers have got used to life in the Nevskiy area. Dmitriy Runkov found out who got separate apartments and who had to renew even costumes.


Even under bright stage lights, one wont notice straight away – the Fontanka circus is now at Dybenko street. The performance schedule at the chapiteau arena is almost exactly identical to that in the historic building. The difference is seen only in the place restricted to the audience – behind the curtains. Glamorous divas in feathers and jewelry have to add protective gear. Without rubber shoes, part of their garments can sink in autumn slush

The first thing performers do on the morning of the show is check weather forecasts. Weather now directly affects the performance. A real town had to be moved from Fontanka to the Esenin Park during the renovation works. Almost like during Madonna’s or Sting’s tours – it took several trucks to move everything.

Alexander Zhukov, head administrator of Fontanka circus: “All parts of the chapiteau and stables fit into 4 trucks and carts for make-up rooms. The move took 13 days.

The change of location has proved fortunate for ten circus stallions, it seems. They have a luxurious accommodation on a chapiteau scale – private stables with separate rooms

Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “For all this four-legged troupe, these semi-wild conditions of a street chapiteau are a lot closer to natural ones. Equilibrists, clowns, acrobats and jongleurs will return under the dome of the old circus not earlier than in 2 years. Having got used to living on the road, they add that its not as important where the miracle of a performance is born as who is creating it”

Its for the first time that the Fontanka circle in exile works not according to the schedule, but – as they say – until the very last client. The season will be closed with the first frost. But if the audience asks for more, the chapiteau arena could be open until New Year.