Khalil Oghab, who was the father of the Persian circus

Circus has been a popular form of entertainment for centuries, although the acts have changed greatly through its 250-year modern history. In 1768, Philip Astley, a skilled equestrian credited as the father of the modern circus, began performing tricks atop horses, later adding acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to his act. Over the centuries, circus evolved to include increasingly theatrical and jaw-dropping acts from clowning and ballooning, to menageries and trick-riding. In the 20th century the popularity of traditional circus involving wild animals and menageries began to decline, making way for a new wave of circus known as ‘cirque nouveau’ or contemporary circus.