From displays of horsemanship presented on bare earth near the Thames River, Astley Amphitheatre rose to become famous as the originator of modern circus entertainment.
Thrilling audiences with a continuously changing line-up, the Astleys presented everything from bee wrangling to tumblers, fireworks to battle re-enactments, not to mention trampolining, animal acts, musical automata and … quite a lot of ballet!
In this illustrated talk, Dr Caitlyn Lehmann will introduce the eccentric world of Philip and John Astley, and reveal the unexpected connections between ballet and circus that shaped the Astley’s fortunes from the 1780s to the early 1800s.
Caitlyn is a cultural historian specialising in ballet and 18th-century studies. She received her PhD at the University of Melbourne and writes regularly for The Australian Ballet. She is also dance critic for the UK’s Dancing Times.