He ain't heavy, he's my brother...

The Curatola Brothers by Gem Hall 

The Curatola Brothers by Gem Hall 

Emanuel and Giuseppe Curatola are from an Italian circus family and are seasoned professionals. We caught up with them for a chat about circus life and growing up with six older sisters!

Were you born into a circus family?

Emanuel - My father is from a circus family but not my mother, we weren’t born into the circus, instead we asked my parents when I was 12 years old if I could go to circus school, because when I was young I really loved the circus. We are the youngest of eight children, with six older sisters.

Giuseppe - We grew up between Milan and Bologna in a small village, very rural. My father was originally from Sicily and my mother and sister were born in the south of Italy, but we moved north where there were more jobs and opportunities for my father to set up his own business as a driver.

When did you first go to circus school?

Emanuel - I saw an advert for a circus school and signed up. Our father said no at first but did eventually agree and took me to the circus school in Verona. After a few years, Giuseppe came to visit, then aged 8, and asked to go to after one of my teachers saw him and said ‘stay here and I will make you an acrobat.’

Giuseppe - My father said, ‘if you stay, I cannot come back and pick you up whenever you want’, but that was it I stayed for three years at the circus school with my brother.

Emanuel - We graduated together as acrobats. At the circus school we tried everything, juggling, trampoline, you try a little bit and then you take further the things that you have more of a natural talent for. Normally you stay at the school for five years, but after three the director called our father and said, ‘you’ll waste time if they stay at school and you’ll lose two years of their career.’

Giuseppe - So, following our final show at school we got a contract for one of the main circus’s in Italy. After that we started to work on festivals which led to circus.

How long have you worked in circus?

Giuseppe – We’ve now worked in circus for 24 years, it’s quite unusual to find brothers who have worked so closely together for so long! My father always said “never make scandal in the backstage” he instilled that values that we have today.

Emanuel - My son he is 13, he’s my future, he is currently in the circus school in Italy, but I want to give him the freedom to make the decisions that we did when we started.

Have you performed in the UK before?

Giuseppe – Yes 20 years ago we were touring with Zippo’s circus and met Tweedy then, in fact we went to his wedding. Then in 2001 we worked in the Blackpool Tower Circus, but that was the last time we toured in the UK.

Have you always performed as hand balancers?

Emanuel – Our act has evolved over time from lots of acrobatics to more hand balancing. Nell and Cal have given us an opportunity to do a lot more this year, we are dancing, doing a bit of comedy performance and we’re even doing a bit of presenting which we’re really enjoying. We are quite versatile and have been jugglers in the past too.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Emanuel - We try and enjoy every moment from when we wake up as it’s a great experience. You fast become a family in a circus.

Your wives are with you on tour, how and when did you meet?

Giuseppe - My wife Alison is from a circus family and was a dancer, she’s also working in the Giffords store this year.

Emanuel - My wife, Tatyana is a dancer and aerialist, we met in 2003 in Germany in a circus when we were both performing – she isn’t from a circus family she left home at 16 as a dancer. We don’t want to spoil any surprises, but she is in the bear costume this year and operates the curtains behind the scenes.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to run away with the circus.

Emanuel - You have to love what you do, and you have to be yourself, you can’t be arrogant as you’re part of a group, a family and you have to work together.