After a two-year absence, the stars of the circus are returning to the big top of Espace Fontvieille for nine days of performances featuring established international artists togethers with the promising talents of the 10th New Generation.
“Audiences will be treated to an outstanding programme from 20 to 29 January 2023, featuring 150 artists from 14 countries,” announces Urs Pilz, the festival’s artistic director. All will compete to outdo each other in skill and talent to win the Clowns d’Or, d’Argent and de Bronze, the prestigious awards conferred by the biggest circus festival in the world, which will be celebrating its 45th edition. The anniversary is also shared by the young artists of the 10th New Generation, the international competition that awards Gold, Silver and Bronze Junior prizes. These two events are coming together for the first time in the ring, to create a unique programme! The precious trophies will be awarded to the winners at the end of the gala evening on 24 January 2023.
“Together with HSH Princess Stéphanie, president of the festival, 25 extraordinary acts have been selected to take part in this jubilee edition,” says Urs PIlz. The bill gives pride of place to acrobatics, comedy and animals, “the three pillars of traditional circus”. Other highlights include a hand to hand duo from Cuba (Dust in the Wind), an irresistible troupe of Kenyan artists specialising in ground acrobatics (The Black Blues Brothers), and Sofiia Hrechko, an astonishing twelve-year-old Ukrainian contortionist! Thrill-seekers will also love the double wheel of death presented by the Mustafa Danguir troupe (Spain and Morocco), and American artist Wesley Williams, who performs his act seated on an 8-metre unicycle. The amazing feats of Swiss magician and illusionist Peter Marvey are equally breathtaking, and will immerse the audience in a world between dream and reality. Meanwhile, the clownish trio Equivokee from Ukraine and Italian clown Lorenzo will make you laugh out loud.
Traditional circus acts that respect animals
Also in the spotlight are Alessio Fochessato’s trained parrots, which will fly freely around the big top in an astonishing aerial ballet. Alex Giona’s eight magnificent white horses have been gently trained to respond purely to voice commands, and give a performance without the use of whips. The same close relationship connects the ten tigers that have been raised with their 20-year-old trainer Bruno Togni, the son of Flavio Togni, the most lauded circus director in the history of the festival. “We only hire acts with animals born in zoos or circuses, whose living conditions we are aware of. They must be treated with care and respect.” So let the show begin, with today’s most famous artists making way for exciting young newcomers on the circus scene!
The love of the circus as a legacy
In 1974, Prince Rainier III decided to create a festival to support traditional circus. “To begin with, recalls Urs Pilz, the circus directors didn’t think the project would continue over the long term. Not only did it continue, but it has grown over time!” This year more than 40,000 spectators are expected to attend. “The Princely family has always supported the festival.” In 2005 HSH Princess Stephanie became the president, taking up the torch from her father and becoming fully involved in the organisation of the shows. In 2012, she in turn launched New Generation, a competition for young circus artists whose international jury is now chaired by her eldest daughter, Pauline Ducruet.