Person : Colleano, Con

Alternative Names:
Birth Year:
Death Year:
Practice tightropes are generally set at four to eight feet off the ground, but the low tightwires used in performance are usually higher. Low tightwire-walkers have traditionally used a parasol for balance. It may not seem like much of a help to those watching from the sides, but air pressure on the large rounded surface provides just enough resistance to help steady the performer. In the golden age of the circus, two of the greatest low tightwire walkers, however, elected not to use a parasol: Bird Millman and Con Colleano. Con Colleano, one of the finest of low tightwire-walkers, was the first to accomplish the extremely difficult forward somersault on the low wire. When he first performed it in public at the New York Hippodrome in 1923, it took him four tries. No one had believed it could ever be done, because the performer’s feet must lead the arc over his head and find the wire before he can actually see where to place them. An Australian by birth, Colleano came to the Ringling show in 1925 with a variety of acrobatic skills and his sister Winnie, a skilled trapeze artist. Dressed as a torreador, his routines on the wire included an incredibly rapid blur of bolero dancing and difficult acrobatic twists, spins, and turns. His long career in the circus did not end until his retirement in 1960, during which time, incredibly, he was never seriously injured. (From Hoh, p. 171-2).

Right Circuses
Right Acts
   Pre-1793 | 1793-1800 | 1801-1824 | 1825-1871 | 1872-1905 | 1906-1940 |
About | Contact Us | Credits | Links | Resources
IATH_Logo Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, Copyright © 2004 by Lavahn G. Hoh and the University of Virginia