Amazing artistic performances, unimaginably difficult tricks, and the highest appraisals from both the public and professionals – all this refers to the acts below.

Flying Cranes by director Vilen Golovko is sometimes called “the best trapeze act in circus history.” In 1995 it won one of the most prestigious circus awards–the Colden Clown at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, the “Circus Olympics” as it is sometimes referred to.

The act was rehearsed during the USSR and it took some years to perfect it. According to Golovko, when it was first shown to some Soviet officials, one of them got a heart attack–he was shocked by the difficulty of the tricks. When it premiered in the 1980s it was a real breakthrough and hailed as a unique combination of stunning choreography, acrobatics, and artistic ideas.

The performance referrers to the famous Soviet song Cranes where the birds are portrayed as souls of fallen soldiers.  The iconic Soviet movie The Cranes are Flying (1957) is devoted to the same theme.

Elphoria–Anastasia Fedotova-Stykan’s equestrian act is another winner of the Golden Clown. She scooped the award in 2015. She’s regarded as one of the best Russian horse trainers. During her routine, she pulls off a number of impressive tricks on her two horses (one black, one grey).

She has an unorthodox approach to training and her horses are completely free during each of the performances.

“The trio demonstrates the remarkable relationship that was forged through the deep love and understanding between a person and a horse,” says one review.

Anastasia hails from a line of entertainers–she’s a third-generation circus artist.

The Desire Of Flight staged by married couple Malvina Abakarova and Valery Sychev received Monte Carlo’s Golden Clown in 2014. However, there’s been a serious tragedy since–Abakarova fell from under the dome and was seriously injured. Doctors were not sure whether she would be able to walk again, but luckily she pulled through. She is no longer able to perform the trick so her daughter Katerina has stepped into the limelight.

They say that the performance in 2014 positively shocked the jury and the public. The Desire Of Flight is a story about a woman in love with a man who ignores her. “It’s an unusual act,” said Abakarova. At the end of the performance, the woman falls from high up, just to end her suffering.

By all means, it’s an unusual act. The artists developed their tricks using equipment and belts not normally used for trapezes, and they do not use safety wires. The performers designed the costumes, chose the music, developed the tricks–they have full artistic direction. No wonder it won the highest award at Monte Carlo.

“The artist not only demonstrates unbelievably complex tricks, great plasticity, and unbelievable skill, he expands traditional views on equilibristics and makes the public hold its breath and follow every bit of his character’s movement,” says a circus promoter’s site about Papin Khachatryan’s act.

“My performance reflects the atmosphere of Paris…. It seems to me that during my act a viewer is immersing himself or herself into ‘Bon Voyage,’ a pleasant journey across France, where each person can dream about many different things,” says Khachatryan.

He’s from a circus dynasty and has scooped awards all across Russia. He currently works in a Moscow circus. The idea of “Perfumer” was conceived a few years and it took one year to create the act. Khachatryan’s performance earned him an award at this year’s International Circus Festival in Moscow.

This article was originally published in Russia Beyond on January 9, 2019, and has been reposted with permission.

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