A Photographic History Of The Circus

January 16, 2015 2:12 PM

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A Photographic History Of The Circus

Even today, running away to join the circus has a glorious sound to it: It's a myth of reinvention, of taking on a new identity, of dressing in spangles and glitter and swinging above the crowds on a trapeze. It doesn't matter that circus performers train as long as athletes, that they're amazingly disciplined, and that circus life is hard -- what matters is that the circus is a magical, alluring, irresistible place -- a place that has captured the imagination for centuries.

The first modern circuses began in England in the 18th century, featuring riders -- usually returning soldiers who had trained horses in the military -- performing tricks on horseback. In the next hundred years, acts became more daring, and circus impresarios discovered that women attracted audience...

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