Kyrgyz State Circus

© Firecracker

Kyrgyz State Circus

The Kyrgyz State Circus in Bishkek was one of a series of circus buildings commissioned across the Soviet Union during the 70s and 80s. While some of its mural art has been damaged by time, the city landmark was renovated in 2005. The UFO-shaped circus apparently still functions today, although we saw little signs of life apart from a rather jovial caretaker who was not interested in our google-translated requests for a quick whip around the interior.

The circus hosted its first show in 1978, combining acrobatics, magic, animals and slapstick humour – this all came to a rather epic end in 2009 when a bear, obviously fed up with rehearsals for the Russian State Circus’s ‘Bears on Ice’ show, took to the rink with its jaws clasped around the throat of the administrator, who expired on the spot. The bear was immediately shot dead. In the following years, a growing debate about the use of animals in the circus resulted in a petition to ban such performances, although these were largely ignored. 

It’s a great location though, especially without any lurking bears and permits via our local fixer are relatively easy to secure.

All images by Lee-Ann Olwage & Gavin McJannet / © Firecracker 2024