Although the Soviet Union is long gone, it has more than left its mark on our history. Whether it be literature, music, philosophy, or scientific achievements, the USSR produced its fair share of timeless classics. However, of all the things left behind by the now-disbanded communist union, circus buildings have become a particular attraction for many.
History Of The Circus In The USSR
For one reason or another, the circus became a major part of soviet life in the 20th century, and many acts even toured the US under the name “The Moscow Circus”. Before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, all circuses were private, and the quality differed greatly from one group to the next. Shortly after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet Union took hold, and all circuses became government-run. Although this ensured all profits from the circus acts went directly to the state, it did improve the quality of many schools, and the circuses began to take on the role of art as well as entertainment.
Shortly after the USSR rose to power, government officials quickly saw that art was an important facet of people’s lives and could shape individuals into good communist citizens. The art movement that emerged from this idea was Socialist Realism, which aimed to depict communist values in a positive life. Thus, all art that emerged from the Soviet Union between 1932 and 1988 had to meet a set of requirements to be approved for public consumption, and circus acts were no different.
However, the circus was not just a form of art. With its tightrope walks, trapeze artists, and acrobats, it was also a display of athletic ability, something the Soviets took very seriously. For the Soviet government, beating different countries in athletic competitions, especially those that embodied the spirit of capitalism, was of great importance. To them, it would demonstrate to the people the superiority of communism over capitalism. Because of this, the government put a lot of effort into training the men and women who performed in the circus, as they saw it as something of a direct representation of the prowess of Soviet Russia.
Although the government circus groups are gone, and they are now back in the hands of private owners, many of the most famous circus buildings can still be visited around Russia. Throughout the remainder of this article, we will look at a handful of the most impressive soviet circus buildings to visit.
1. Moscow State Circus
This is one of the few soviet circus buildings that people will find in use today. When people say ‘Moscow State Circus,’ they generally refer to a group of two buildings. The older building was the home to many animal acts that became popular after the second world war, and the newer building housed the trapeze artists and acrobats.
2. Kazakh State Circus
Kazakhstan is a large country that played an important role in the Soviet Union. As such, the country was also home to one of the larger circus buildings in Russia, called the Kazakh state circus. Those wishing to visit this old circus building will have to visit a shady part of Almaty to do so.
3. Kharkiv State Circus
Located in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the Kharkiv State Circus is one of the older buildings on this list, having been used as far back as 1906. These days, the building is no longer in use, and a newer, larger building has been constructed which houses more people.
4. Old Dnepropetrovsk State Circus
Also located in Ukraine, the Dnepropetrovsk State Circus is old and run down and looks like something out of a Russian horror movie. Still, some people enjoy visiting the building because of its historical significance.
5. New Dnepropetrovsk State Circus
In 1980, the new Dnepropetrovsk State Circus opened its doors to the public as the new place to watch circus events. This circus was conducted shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union and, as such, is one of the newer soviet circuses one can visit.