Life’s a circus

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Life’s a circus

As the Moscow Grand Circus rolls into Abu Dhabi this week, the man behind the event talks about life under the big top

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Published: Sun 22 Sep 2013, 12:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:05 PM

IF YOU WERE impressed by last year’s Chinese State Circus performance in Abu Dhabi, you haven’t seen anything yet.

The Moscow Grand Circus, developed by the same production team, has been designed to raise the stakes on performance art. From death-defying stunts to precision choreography and rib-tickling comedy, this is a show not to be missed.

Phillip Gandey, the mastermind behind the show, has spent a lifetime in the circus. So when it comes to putting on a show, there are few people in the business that know more about it than him. Gandey talks about bringing the circus to the capital.

First the Chinese State Circus, and now the Moscow Grand Circus. What makes these two countries so good at circus performing?

They are the two best circus nations in the world by far. China and Russia invest heavily in performing arts. These arts offer opportunity and direction to young people and for that reason the level of training and exposure to performing arts makes them so much more skilled and refined.

Having successfully brought the Chinese State Circus to the UAE, you’ve now developed a totally new show from scratch. What’s in store?

It’s about a high tempo, with plenty of energy with a good flavour of comedy. In order to to take this show production to the next level we have focused on a performance that offers all of those things.

Did you ever perform yourself?

I grew up in a circus – literally. I was the youngest knife thrower on the European circuit as an 11-year-old throwing knives at human targets in front of live audiences.

What’s your favourite part of a circus performance?

The circus is not just about one or two performances but the complete package that brings magic to so many. I guess a popular favourite are the trapeze artists - I think the audience loves the sense of danger and anticipation. The other one would be the strongman, and his signature move (pictured) involving members of the audience in a truck driving over him as he lies on the floor.

The Moscow Grand Circus takes place in Abu Dhabi from September 25-28 and tickets start from Dhs150 for adults (children under 12 are half price). For further details visit

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