Into the ring !

From 15th June 2013 to 5th January 2014

Just like the parade when the circus comes to town, this exhibition is staging the display, for the first time, of the magnificent costumes and robes belonging to some of the greatest circus troupes in the world. Dressed in their dolman jackets, clown suits and leotards, decorated with painted designs, embroidery and sequins, Monsieur Loyal and the clowns, equestrians, acrobats, jugglers, animal tamers; trapeze artists and tightrope walkers will bring the magic of the circus ring to life in a swirl of colors and light. The CNCS invites the visitor to discover a universe dating from the emergence of the modern circus in the 18th Century up to the development of the contemporary circus.

Items displayed in the exhibition

Costumes, costume and act accessories, trunks, pictures, photographs, posters, models of costumes and stage makeup, audiovisual documents and interviews with artists, costume makers and manufacturers will be presented by the CNCS. These pieces have been sourced from the greatest families and circuses in the world: Fratellini, Bouglione, Cirque Plume, Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Phénix, The Ringling Bros.& Barnum & Bailey Circus, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group…

Backstage at the circus

In addition to showing the dressing rooms of these emblematic characters, the exhibition will enable visitors to see behind the scenes of the circus. From design through to the creation of the costume, the true talent of these master craftsmen will be revealed; along with their traditional production methods and more modern techniques, and including those indispensable extras such as the makeup, wigs, masks and shoes. An artist’s dressing room will illustrate the physical transformation of the artist into a character who can inspire laughter and excitement. Using this backdrop, the exhibition will also show the development of the costumes specific to each act, with ideas drawn from military art, ballet, the trend of exoticism, history or contemporary art.

The fantastic circus story

The circus was originally a show which developed from equestrian artistry in England in the middle of the 18th Century. It then spread throughout the western world, to the United States, Africa and China, creating a form of popular and brightly coloured entertainment which was constantly changing and was based on its set of defi ning features: the ring, the big top, risk, talent and laughter. Throughout its history, the circus has epitomised movement and metamorphosis, creating its own highly technical costume art which is as rigorous as it is spectacular.

Commissariat de l’exposition et direction artistique

Joëlle Garcia

Chief curator of libraries

Archivist paleographer, Joëlle Garcia is the head of the Archives, manuscripts and printed materials section in the Performing Arts department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. She has written a thesis and various articles on the history of the...

Chief curator of libraries

Archivist paleographer, Joëlle Garcia is the head of the Archives, manuscripts and printed materials section in the Performing Arts department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. She has written a thesis and various articles on the history of the image, has organised workshops on the history of books, and has been the curator of the exhibitions Acteurs en scène, regards de photographe (2008) and Vertige du corps: Etienne Bertrand Weill photographe (2012) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. She published a compendium of Charles Dullin textes in the Mettre en scène collection at Actes sud-Papiers in 2011, and led a feature on the arts of mime and gesture for the Revue de la Bibliothèque nationale de France in 2012.

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Delphine Pinasa

Director of the Centre national du costume de scène

Delphine Pinasa has been director of the cncs since August 2011. She is an art historian, specialising in stage costume and from 2005 was the deputy director of the cncs. She has worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London,...

Director of the Centre national du costume de scène

Delphine Pinasa has been director of the cncs since August 2011. She is an art historian, specialising in stage costume and from 2005 was the deputy director of the cncs. She has worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and she worked at the Opéra national de Paris from 1993 to 2005, where she had particular responsiblity for the museographical collection of costumes, as well as at the head of the Costume Heritage department at the Opéra from 2001 onwards. Delphine Pinasa has curated numerous exhibitions in France and abroad and has published several works, both in relation to these exhibitions and to the history of the Palais Garnier costume workshops.

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Pascal Jacob

Author of the exhibition book

Pascal Jacob is the artistic director of the Cirque Phénix and of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, teaching at the National Circus School in Montreal and lecturing at the Institute for Theatre Studies (Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle). He is also a...

Author of the exhibition book

Pascal Jacob is the artistic director of the Cirque Phénix and of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, teaching at the National Circus School in Montreal and lecturing at the Institute for Theatre Studies (Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle). He is also a creative consultant and talent scout for the Franco Dragone Entertainment Group. He is a costume and scenography designer, and is well-known for designing the shows Barnum’s Kaleidoscope and India, and creating the costumes for the Rolf Knie’s first Salto Natale show plus those for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the United States in 1996 and 1999. He has written some twenty works on the arts of the circus and the opera.

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Delphine Lebovici

Scenographer

Following a diploma in scenography at the Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Delphine Lebovici divides her time between set design for the theatre, dance and opera (A slight ache by Harold Pinter; The Valkyrie project with the Bonn Opera; Damier, Dance...

Scenographer

Following a diploma in scenography at the Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Delphine Lebovici divides her time between set design for the theatre, dance and opera (A slight ache by Harold Pinter; The Valkyrie project with the Bonn Opera; Damier, Dance Week), design for events and for the fashion industry ( Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Issey Miyake) and exhibition museography (Centre Pompidou, BnF, Palais Garnier, Musée Guimet, National Archives, the Abu Dhabi Louvre). In addition she organises multi-disciplinary experiences which lead into exhibitions, such as Lumière subjective et Téléportation (Subjective light and Teleportation) (Nuit Blanche 2007).

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