Vintage! Women! Variete!

Summary - Information about the piece

"Who doesn't want to dance on glass - say it now. You should go work in the kitchen or mend stockings."
Based on Paula Busch

With their relentless, artistic, tragicomic journey, Jana Korb and her ensemble lead their audience inside the skin of circus and variety artists of the 19th and early 20th century and their unusual lives.
Vintage! Women! Variete! is a performative examination of traditional and contemporary circus history, a homage to our idols, a play toying with old and new circus techniques. This documentary circus theater tells true stories about real women - accompanied by a touring exhibition about women in circus, variety and acrobatics.

Show versions of Vintage! Women! Variete!

Mobile variety show
with three performers on our own stage (aerial rig)
For theaters or open air on aerial rig
ca. 65min
While watching the demolition of her circus dome in the 1930s, grand circus director Paula Busch remembers her encounters with all the extraordinary women she had been working with - and imagines a very special last show.
In German, English, or Czech.

Travelling exhibition (with guided tours)
Twelve panels with historic infos about circus artists and circus women in heyday of modern circus (in Germany).
The exhibition is part of the mobile variety show, but is also available for itself. The guided tours provide even deeper knowledge and quirky anecdotes, and answer individual questions. Tours in German, English, or Czech.

Variety show acts
The different routines and choreographies of the mobile variety show - solos, duetts, and trios - can be extracted and performed as singular acts in mix shows or as walkacts. In a playful way, we thus present the world of circus of the twenties - and with correspondent introductions we also provide historical background infos of the artists.

Lecture performances,
Jana Korb also shares her profound research about circus and the gender of circus in lecture performances - as show M.C., gala host or interview partner. Depending on the show format, she offers historic facts and anecdotes, or explains circus techniques in social and cultural context.
This "infotainment" proves to the audience, how extraordinary contemporary circus is the context of its historic roots.

>> Further information at
>> Technical requirements
>> Summary and technical rider - PDF download


Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Nioclas Seeliger



Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Nioclas Seeliger



Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Nioclas Seeliger



Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Vojtech Brtnicky


An artistic journey to the time of the very first grand circus ladies


Vintage! Women! Variete! - Detail of exhibition - Sandwina with Leamy Ladies and Lillian Leitzel (re)

With us you will find answers to all your nagging questions:
Why hadn't Tilly Bebe been eaten by her lions?
Why did Lillian Leitzel faint after every aerial performance?
Who was the better juggler of clubs, knives, and saucers - Lottie Brunn or her brother?
Was Kätchen Brumbach really the strongest woman on earth?
Why did Paula Busch adopt her friend?
And most importantly: who was Paula Busch?
How did they live, all those circus ladies?
Were they allowed to go out at night? Drink a beer?

Join us in our relentless, artistic, tragicomic journey! We will lead you inside the skin of circus and variety artists and their unusual lives.
Visit with us the grand circus director Paula Busch, great juggler Lottie Brunn, strong aerialist Lillian Leitzel, and famous clowness... (Hmmm??? Urrrg. Really? There was none? Well - now there is!) and others more.


Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Vojtech Brtnicky



Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Nioclas Seeliger



Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Jürgen Klieber

Circus women - today and in those days

We are inspired by the greatness and style of former circus women, and create a homage to our artistic icons! But we also contribute our own current influences and establish a fusion: historical circus thrills combined with contemporary circus art.


Anja Gessenhardt - Berlin
Stories are her passion: with her voice, as mime, with gestures, by dance acrobatics on the ground and athmosphere in the air. Just like Paula Busch, she keeps our show together by her versatility, and charms our audience by transgressing all genres.

Acrobat, actress and musician
Performs and teaches in D, PL, BIH, SRB, MEX, IND since 1999.
Trained by Minako Seki(JP), Elías Cohen(RCH), Jonathan Kay(GB), Julia Christ(D)

Paula Busch 1886-1973
was manager and owner of Circus Busch since 1917, as well as tamer of beasts, actress, and writer. One of the most extraordinary women of the world (of circus), she acquired a PHD, wrote plays, and lived openly with her lover - whom she later adopted as her daughter.


Jana Korb - Berlin
Jana Korb has always taken a shine to performing the muscle grind. When she found out that Luisita Leers accomplished up to 180 - well audience, start counting!
And even if she "just" manages to do 20, she will mesmerize you with contemporary aerial choreographies - and will deeply bow before Ms. Leers!!!

Aerial artist, acrobat and artist
Performs and teaches in D, CZ, PL and NL since 2001.
Trained by Mike Wright (GB), Orit Nevo (IL), Gabriel Chame (RA), Minako Seki (JP), Elías Cohen (RCH)

Lillian Leitzel 1892-1932
Superstar of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Lillian Leitzel was famous for her one-armed swings and back planches on the rope and Roman rings. A true diva, she insisted on having her own private waggon and backstage tent - equipped daily with fresh flowers, thick carpets and her own piano. To uphold the female illusion of the weaker gender, she used to faint after her show and had to be carried out of the ring. She died after a drop from the rings - due to worn out material...


Silke Schirok - Bremen
One of few women, Silke Schirok juggles rapidly and virtously with clubs. Brunn elements like fast prop changes, high heels and the iconic Lottie jump enrich her juggling style in a very unique way. Only the "impossible trick" of the Brunn siblings will stay impossible for a little while longer. But Silke has been juggling since childhood and will not give up!

Juggler and fire spinner
Juggles since 1997 in D, NL und GB.
Trained by Gregor Kiock (NL), Rod Laver (GB)
Studied juggling at Codarts Rotterdam (NL) and contemporary circus and physical theater at Circomedia Bristol (GB)

Lottie Brunn 1925-2008
performed over a period of 40 years. A grande dame, she always wore high heels! After immigrating to the USA with her brother, she worked at famous Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. After 1951 she worked solo, as one of the fastest jugglers alive and became an icon of the international juggling scene of juggling art!


Vintage! Women! Variete!

Mobile variete show with three performers on own aerial stage with exhibition
ca. 65min

Idea, concept: Jana Korb
Director: Christiane Wiegand
Choreographer: Julia Christ

Circus director, animal tamer: Anja Gessenhardt
Aerial artist, strong woman: Jana Korb
Juggler: Silke Schirok

Design: Tobias Stiefel

Costumes: ajak Kostümbild
Costume design: Heike Ebner
Assistants: Suz Baum, Gabriele Sandring

Prop and stage design: Claire Terrien
Assistant: Friederike Berat
Prop production assistant: Rüdiger Böhm
Technician, rigging: Hoppe Hoppinsky

Exhibition, research: Jana Korb
Exhibition design: Tobias Stiefel, Claire Terrien

Production: Korb + Stiefel

Stage setup outdoor version

(for indoor version, please talk to us):

Aerial rig for open air performances:
Free standing three legged pyramid
Height: 8m
Ground space: ca. 10m x 10m
Ground space for setup: 6m x 16m
Setup by Jana Korb and team.
The ground must be flat and even, free of equipment and obstacles. The aerial space must be free of obstacles, not closer than 2m.

Setup: ca. 3h
Take down: ca. 2h

If performed in dusk or darkness we need:
Basic white light to illuminate the performance space, and a follow spot.

We need a sound system, appropriate for the size of the audience.
We bring our own player (to connect by mini jack) and a headset microphone (to connect by XLR).

>> Infos and technical rider - PDF download
>> Further Info at


Vintage! Women! Variete!, Foto: Nioclas Seeliger



Vintage! Women! Variete! - Ausstellung beim Zirkart Festival