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Last tribute to Alexis Grüss, the circus legend who made horses dance

“A great man”, “loved, respected, who loved music, horses, work, people”, declared those close to Alexis Grüss during his funeral ceremony.

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Last tribute to Alexis Grüss, the circus legend who made horses dance

“A great man”, “loved, respected, who loved music, horses, work, people”, declared those close to Alexis Grüss during his funeral ceremony. The circus world paid a final tribute to the figure of the equestrian circus on Thursday April 11 at the Saint-Roch church in Paris. Died Saturday at the age of 79. He had just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of his first marquee erected in 1974.

The patriarch of the company Alexis Grüss, whose origins date back to 1868, died following a “cardiac accident” on Saturday April 6. In addition to members of his family and great-grandchildren, many circus personalities were present, such as the Bouglione family, members of Cirque du Soleil and horse trainer Mario Luraschi.

The gentleman Alexis had succeeded in imposing his traditional style where music was one of his centerpieces. The ceremony began with the Folies Gruss orchestra performing Pod Admiralskou Vlajkov by Julius Fucik (traditionally played during a number, according to the mass libretto). But there were also two very beautiful songs divinely interpreted by Caroline Casadesus, the Pie Jesu by Gabriel Fauré as well as the Ave Maria by Charles Gounod.

Those close to him praised in particular the “complicity” and the “trust” that he was able to develop with horses, his humor, or even his “know-how”, transmitted to his descendants. In 1982, he managed to convince Minister Jack Lang to link circuses to Culture and no longer to Agriculture. His cavalry today numbers fifty horses. On the occasion of the 46th edition of the international Circus festival of Monte Carlo, which was held from January 19 to 28, 2024, the artists of the Alexis Grüss Company received the highest distinction of this prestigious event: the Clown d 'Gold. They are the only French artists to have won the Clown d'Or, joining the previous two (Clown d'Argent in 1998 then the Clown d'Or in 2001).

The burial was to take place in “strict family privacy”, according to a first press release. In charge of culture at the City of Paris, Carine Rolland representing Anne Hidalgo. We looked in vain for representatives of the Ministry of Culture in the midst of a crowd of admirers. A crowd where we discovered the actors Macha Méril, Jean-Paul Farré, Patrick Prejean, Pierre Douglas, the singer Hervé Vilard, the mayor of Béziers Robert Ménard, and members of the Republican Guard, all collected and moved.

This ceremony concluded with the tune of My favorite dream by Gap Mangione. A title which “closed the shows given by the family for years”, according to the booklet. The Alexis Grüss dynasty dates back to “a couple formed in 1868 by the marriage between Charles Grüss, initially a stonemason, and Maria Martinetti, member of a family of squires and acrobats leading their own big top since the 1850s,” according to the company website.

The equestrian specificity of the family has been refined over time and, in the fourth generation, Alexis Grüss gave it a new shine by creating the Cirque à l'Ancienne in 1974. All within the framework of the bicentenary of the arrival in Paris of Philip Astley, founder of the circus. This structure, launched with the actress Silvia Monfort, is considered major in the renovation of circus arts.

This Friday, April 12, Alexis Grüss will be buried in the Piolenc cemetery in Vaucluse. In 1990, the circus performer moved not far from there, to Sérignan-du-Comtat. With her family. And his horses...

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