Hanlon Brothers

April 4, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of three of the Hanlon Brothers, ‘the celebrated American gymnasts’
(photo: unknown, probably England, mid 1860s)

The Alhambra, London, company appears at the Theatre du Châtelet, Paris, including premier ballerina Giovannina Pitteri and the Hanlon Brothers, acrobats.
‘Echoes from Paris …
‘The Theatre du Châtelet has re-opened its doors for the performances of the London Alhambra. There are two ballets in which 100 danseuses, the stars of their profession, are headed, says the critic of the Petit Journal, by the star of stars, Mdlle. Pitteri. There are also pantomimic scenes of a diverting character, supported by capital clowns, of the greatest ”suppleness.” A comic ballet deserves especial notice. It is entitled Ki-ki-ko-oh-ki-key, and the most facetious member of the company plays in an ape’s skin. The ”Marseillaise” is sung by 100 vocalists, with a chorus of the audience. The Petit Journal, whose critic, according to custom, writes in the first person singular, thus notices the exhibition. ”I do justice to the acrobats, the gymnasiarchs, and the dancers of Mr. [Frederick] Strange, but I regret to see this fine theatre given up to such spectacles. The level of art was already low enough in the stage of the Châtelet, but a witty expression, a spicy couplet, indemnified the public for the silliness of the dialogue. But now the Châtelet only replaces the Hippodrome, without the equestrian exercises. It replaces the hippodrome very advantageously, I admit. Let gaiety and freedom from care once more be vouchsafed to us, and everyone will rush to see the performances of the brothers Hanlon, three truly surprising acrobats. I say three – rather two and a half – for one of the brothers, a nice little fellow, is hardly ten years of age. The feats of the Hanlon brothers are so marvellous and so daring that the managers thought proper to warn the public beforehand, lest the amphitheatre soul resound with the shrieks of terror.”’
(The Court Circular, London, 20 August 1870, pp. 784c-785a)

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