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The eye of the INA: Alexis Gruss, 60 years of circus and television

Alexis Gruss's old-fashioned circus owes a lot to modern technologies.

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The eye of the INA: Alexis Gruss, 60 years of circus and television

Alexis Gruss's old-fashioned circus owes a lot to modern technologies. The INA archives preserve more than a thousand reports and documentaries devoted to him throughout six decades of a horseback journey that he led at full gallop, accompanied daily by Gipsy, his wife. . Born into the Bouglione family, she joined their little circus family and raised their four children. She is thus at his side, in the mid-70s in these images that Madelen invites you to discover or rediscover.

Alexis Gruss then set up his marquee in Beaubourg, in a neighborhood where street artists have long worked. Some time before, he crossed paths with Sylvia Montfort. The actress has just taken over the management of Carré Thorigny, a performance hall which has now become the Picasso Museum. She invites him to sit in the courtyard of the building for a show celebrating the bicentenary of the creation of the circular track in London by Philip Astley. At the same time, they organized an exhibition at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, which was a huge success with children, but also parents. This is how a complicity is born which will extend well beyond this series of this series of representations.

It is with her that Alexis Gruss will make a lifelong dream come true: perpetuating the tradition taught by his elders: the old-fashioned circus, offering, in particular, equestrian acts neglected since the end of the 1950s. Their passion for spectacle and their common energies led them to open, in the process, the first circus school in France, “L’école au Carré”. The Alexis Gruss company then moved to the Gaité Lyrique, a theater dedicated to operetta which had just closed its doors, then to Beaubourg. In 1982, Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, gave it the status of National Circus. This is how the Folies Gruss were born, in Paris in winter, on tour in spring and autumn, and in the Piolinc park, in Provence during the summer months. Each of the creations is marked by a report in the Journal Télévisé, or interviews in one or other of the major popular programs on the three channels. Alexis Gruss appears as comfortable in front of a camera as with the horses who shared his life until his last moments. He measured the impact of the small screen from the mid-1960s, participating very regularly in “La piste auxétoiles” by Gilles Margaritis.

He was barely 20 years old when he presented his first equestrian aerobatics act there, entitled “Les jeux du cirque”. He then called himself “Alexis Gruss junior”, his uncle having the same first name, being still active”. His visits to the major cities of France, from Besançon to Toulouse via Montbéliard, systematically gave him the opportunity to be invited by regional newspapers. He did not hide, either, in financially difficult times which he always managed to overcome. He was finally very morally marked in 2001, by the fatal fall suffered by director Claude Santelli, knocked down by an elephant, during a rehearsal of “The Magic Flute” under his marquee. The succession is now ensured by his four children Stephan, Armand, Maud and Firmin to whom, four years ago, he chose to pass the torch. He accompanied them on the track and backstage until March 31, the date of the final performance of a show celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Folies Gruss. On December 24, like every year, he organized a midnight mass under the marquee in the presence of 3,000 faithful. A tradition dear to this soul who has just left the track to reach the stars.

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