Following in a Parent’s Footsteps
In talking with Annaliese Nock about the exciting past few months she has had, she mentioned the Next Generation Festival in Monte Carlo. This festival is unlike the one in Paris, Cirque du Monde, and another in Germany both of which are staged to help young artists get a foothold in the profession. Most of the participants are really first generation circus performers. The Monte Carlo competition on the other hand is intended for the next generation of professionals. Many of them are already working in the circus, often as members of their family’s act, such as René Casselly, Jr. for example, whose family won The Gold Clown in the International Festival in 2015.
Annaliese spoke about being blown away by the level of talent there. While René Casselly‘s performance in the big festival centered around his work with elephants, in the Next Generation Festival, which is staged a few weeks after the main competition, he worked with horses with the same astounding level of performance.
The thing that interested me about Annaliese’s performance in the competition, as well as René Casselly’s was that they were not only the next generation of a circus family, both were following in their father’s footsteps presenting the same kind of acts as those of their fathers. René worked with animals, Annaliese performed on the wheel and sway pole.
As I got to thinking about this phenomenon it occurred to me that while many circus performers make much of the fact that they are ninth or fifth generation of circus artists, few actually perform the same acts as their fathers or mothers had.
The classic example of those who did were the Wallenda family, where everyone has gone up on the high wire. A few others that I thought of were Clayton Rosaire who, like his mother, works the big cats, however in a style much different from his mother. Tosca Zoppe is the only one in her family to continue bare back riding like her father, Alberto, whose other children went on the high wire (Tito) or into clowning (Giovanni).
I have seen David Larible’s daughter working on the lyra, and his son, whom he once told me he expected would be working with animals, has turned out to be a fine juggler. Not exactly following in the older generations footsteps but staying in the profession.
Children of circus artists do have some advantages insofar as becoming artists themselves. Besides their parents, they have various other trainers available to help with the development of skills and, of course, they have numerous examples to watch every day of their young lives. So much of their training is accomplished as much by osmosis as by formal tutoring and training. Few, however, emulate their father’s acts. And even fewer of them who do, are of the opposite gender. It is going to be very interesting to watch Annaliese deal with the challenge of developing into artist in her own right while following in the footsteps of her renowned father.