Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vale Belmonte Christiani - Master of the Triple Backward Suicide Somersault

Belmonte's father and mother, Ernesto and Emmaline, had 16 children, 10 of whom went on to become circus greats: Oscar, Daviso, Lucio, Belmonte, Mogador and Pietro were joined by sisters Cossetta, Chieta, Ortans and Corcaita in what developed into the most celebrated bareback riding act in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.

One of their most daring acts was dubbed the "Triple Backward Suicide Somersault", in which three of the brothers, including Belmonte Cristiani, would each circle the top while standing on a galloping horse before somersaulting backwards to land standing on the back of a horse behind, which had, in turn, just been vacated.

I have a hard enough time sitting on a horse. Mindboggling to be cartwheeling between horses. We took the kids to see a family circus a few years ago and the whole family was in on the act from selling tickets, popcorn to performing. Perhaps not as dramatic as the Christiani family, but a great reminder of the creativity of a dying craft and way of life as the canned entertainment from our friend the TV takes over.

Thanks again, the always interesting Telegraph Obituary Section.


Jayne said...

Used to love watching those acts, they are indeed a dying art.

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