The Great Moscow Circus / Photo: Chris Peken

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The Great Moscow Circus has returned to Sydney once more, promising to raise the bar to dizzying heights.

Performing at Lyne Park in Rose Bay, the show features 20 acts from Russia and 40 performers from around the world showcasing an array of acrobatics, colourful costumes, slapstick clowns and stunts.

Now in its 48th year, General Manager Greg Hall said the circus was a fundamental part of Russian culture and had a fascinating history.

“The [Great Moscow] Circus first came to Australia in 1965 at the height of the Cold War,” he said. “It was one of the first cultural groups to come out of the Soviet empire bloc into the West and was accompanied by KGB agents.

“They used to lock [the performers] in the rooms, take the keys and count them on the buses – it was a phenomenal tour.”

The circus expanded from capital city to regional tours in 1990. Its last regional tour of Australia traversed 81 cities, travelled for 72,000 kilometres, raised nearly $500,000 in support of charities in Australia and was seen by over 900,000 people.

Supported by Woollahra Council and the Rotary Club of Rose Bay, Mr Hall said the success of the Rose Bay show lies in its universal appeal.

“What you are giving is a world-class circus, world-class entertainment on your doorstep and … with every tour we do of Australia, we change all the acts,” he said. “No matter how good it is, you can’t say [you’ve] seen it before.”

While capital city tours take place in 10,000 seat auditoriums, regional tours are held within a medium-sized tent which can fit up to 1,500 people.

Belarusian acrobat Viktor Martisevich has been performing with his family in the Great Moscow Circus for 17 years.

“Viktor makes his living throwing his wife 10 metres into the air,” Mr Hall laughs.

Mr Martisevich added: “Circus life is just something amazing … it’s something mixed with a dream, routine and the travelling life.”

Mr Hall said the circus group has worked for over three months on their finale, ‘The Globe of Death’ – a mesh globe four metres in diameter with five motorbike riders riding up to 80 kilometres inside.

“I always come at the end – but I don’t watch that, I watch them,” Mr Hall said, pointing to the rows of seats.

“Next time we come, we’ve got to have an even bigger finale and that’s the essence of it. Every time you do a tour, you have to be better than last time and that’s the real big challenge.”

The Rose Bay show is the Circus’ fifth regional tour and performances will be held at Lyne Park until October 7.