On April 23, 2010, the reconstructed Turkmen State Circus was reopened in Ashgabat. At the grand reopening ceremony, the first circus show was performed with participation of the best Turkmen circus artists and masters of fancy riding on Akhal-Teke horses, as well as guests from abroad, including acrobats from Kenya, trapeze artists from Russia, Chinese gymnasts, the Austrian Piccard circus juggler, the famous Iranian illusionist and hypnotist, clowns from Belarus. Trained elephants and crocodiles, snakes, camels and pigeons were their partners in the arena.
But first, let us move back to the end of 1970’s, when the all-Union competition for the design of the circus building in Ashgabat took place.
Building project was developed in the thesis of a young Turkmen scientist Bazarov Annageldy that was defended in 1975 at the Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute and then the project was approved by the USSR State Commission. On the same project built a circus in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Professor Boris Vasilkov from Moscow and the Ashgabat architect Arif Zeynalov were the project supervisors. The uniqueness of this construction lies in the fact that the building is unsupported and has a scaly coating to resist to seismic tremors up to 9 on the Richter scale.
In 2008, the Decree of President Berdimuhamedov established the State Circus of Turkmenistan, which was transferred to the old circus building, constructed in the USSR.
Rebirth of the Turkmen Circus Arts
The 2-storey old circus building, which is located in Makhtumkuli Avenue in Ashgabat, was reconstructed by the Turkish construction company. The cost of the contract totals US 18 million US dollars. The building has retained its unique architectural appearance and highly mosaic panels, but was faced with white marble and granite. Foyer, arena, spectator seats, circus equipment, cages for animals and other objects also fully updated.
On the dome of the circus was set 16-meter flagpole with the flag of Turkmenistan. The renovated auditorium can accommodate 1700 people. There are also a conference hall and VIP hall. In addition, in 2010, the school for training circus arts was opened.
Today, the complex of buildings of the State Circus of Turkmenistan and its surrounding territory with a park zone are the attraction of Ashgabat that hosts holiday and public events.
A little on history of the Turkmen Circus
The national circus art in Turkmenistan begins its history since 1924. In those years, it was represented mainly by horsemen. Then the first ensemble “Alibek Dzhigits” led by Alibek Kantemirov was created. Kantemirov founded the school of dzhigitovka, which at that time was not circus genre art. Dzhigitovka riding was first introduced to the circus by Turkmen artists, who took the best of national horsemanship. In 1928, an equestrian ensemble “Attraction in the Caucasus Mountains” consisted of eight people and headed by M. Tuganov was formed. In 1940, during preparation for the decade of the arts of Turkmenistan in Moscow, girls joined the troupe for the first time.
Ashgabat circus did not stop its activity during the years of the Great Patriotic War. The team developed campaign programs, which included scenes, reprisals, couplets filled with humor, optimism and an unshakable faith in victory. These performances helped to make the mood and morale of the soldiers who were being treated in Ashgabat hospitals, citizens, and home front workers. In February 1942, the trainer Yuri Durov from the famous dynasty of circus artists toured in Ashgabat with a great success.
In 1944, at the Ashgabat Circus, the studio of Turkmen riders was opened under the direction of V. Galkanov, who created the ensemble “Dzhigits of Sunny Turkmenistan.” The equestrian group toured with success in the cities of the Soviet Union.
The first building of the Ashgabat circus was destroyed by the earthquake in 1948. However, it did not affect the circus life in the country. Mobile chapiteau circus toured in the city on regular basis, and, besides, in the country, work continued to improve the dzhigitovka arts.
At the beginning of 1960, the Turkmen traveling circus ensemble of horsemen was headed by National Artist of Turkmenistan Dovlet Hodjabayev, and at the end of the year, another group was formed on the basis of this collective – the Ensemble of Dzhigits Annaevs under the direction of National Artist of Turkmenistan Amandurdy Annayev. In 1982, it was enlarged by the Ensemble of Dzhigits by Batyr Annayev. Turkmen circus art was also represented by a trained animals show created by Honored Artist of Turkmenistan N. Kochakov.
For many years, Turkmen dzhigits gained the hearts of spectators with their mastery across the world. And although they performed in the Soviet circus, but always – flying the flag of Turkmenistan. Often, after performances, the Turkmen riders were visited by well-known politicians, world cinema and pop stars at the backstage, who expressed their admiration for the riding arts.