7 December 2021

Tuesday, 19:06



Anar JABRAYILOV: "My dream is to represent Azerbaijan at the most prestigious circus festival in the world in Monte Carlo"



If you ask ‘what’s so unusual about performing with hats?’, then you should watch the young talented juggler Anar Jabrayilov, who has perfected his skills in this genre. His unique tricks are amazing. His manner of performance charges with excitement and good mood. Anar will turn 30 this year. He was born into a family of circus performers, who jokingly call such children ‘the born in sawdust’. Anar still remembers his childhood with pleasure – bright lights on the stage, ringing sounds of the circus march, the sweet smell of popcorn and the artists in elegant costumes coming out to the arena under the loud applause...


"Anar, you grew up in the circus. You achieved great success in the arena..."

"Indeed, I grew up behind the scenes of the circus. My father Kamal Jabrayilov was one of the leading horse-riders in the Alov acrobatic team. I was born on May 22, 1991 in Minsk, where the Azerbaijani circus was on tour at that time. I loved horses so much that I could watch them running in the arena for hours. When I was a child, I had a dream where I was riding a frisky horse. The moments when my father took me into his saddle were the happiest in my life. But I very quickly realised that those complex tricks with horses so easily and gracefully performed on the arena are a product of hard work and perseverance. The circus is a special, magical world. It has its own code, mutual understanding, mutual assistance – so called safeguards for the most circus performers. Children brought up in these traditions grow up very early; they learn to work, to take care of their neighbours and animals, to train and educate their own characters. They are the successors of the dynasty, as well as the keepers of age-old circus traditions."

"What about your school years?"

"My mother, Jamilya, paid special attention to our education. But we were constantly on the wheels, so to speak. As soon as we arrived in a city along the route of our tour, the first thing my parents did was to get us enrolled to school next to the circus. My mother strictly controlled our homework and was the most disciplined school teacher for me and for my sister Sehrana. Dad was focused more on our physical development. Together with other ‘circus children’, we regularly did acrobatics, dancing, gymnastics, sometimes trying to imitate our parents. It was funny. I was determined to be a horse-rider. I really rode horses well, performing simple stunts. One of my father's colleagues, former juggler Jalal Jalalov, gave me a set of hats and showed me how to juggle them. At first I failed, it seemed too boring to me, but my father supported me with his advices. Gradually I was so into it that I could rehearse for hours. Thanks to my hobby, I started performing with hats in the Donetsk circus, when I was 15. In the same year, I became the best at the Circus Future Festival in Lugansk. Now hats are my signature line. I try to constantly complicate the tricks, introducing new unique elements. There is still enough room for perfection in this genre."

"What is circus for you?"

"I find myself in a wonderful world every time the curtains go up. Going out to the arena has always been exciting for me. Although the faces of thousands of spectators merge into one big picture, and all my attention is focused on the tricks I perform, I can quite clearly snatch someone's anxious look, someone's smile from the depths of the hall, or a sonorous child laughter suddenly standing out from the general hum. It is very important to feel the audience and its mood. Only then there is excitement, lightness and courage... Any performance has its own characteristics. Usually, at the beginning of the program, the artists who can turn on the audience go into the arena to create an atmosphere that will determine the pace of the entire performance. The team of the Water, Fire and Light Show, conducted by the Honoured Artist of Russia Anatoly Sokol, usually entrusts the opening party of every performance to me. I really love my work, every time trying to give the spectators all of myself, my energy. During the performance, I get so much pleasure from communicating with the audience that sometimes I don't even want to leave the arena. I cannot express the feeling when I am standing in the arena, while the audience applauds, shouts ‘bravo’ and thanks my work."

"It must have been difficult to hone your skills..."

"No matter how complex a trick is, we know that to make a circus an art, it is necessary to work on creating an image. In 2011, together with the talented director Ruslan Ganeev, we created a new production called The Artist. The name of the show speaks for itself. My character is a person who is always going forward, who is playing a fun game with his hats, charges the audience with his smile and energy. I think this is the mission of any true artist."

"You have also been performing with trained monkeys in the recent years."

"When my father finished his career as a rider, he did not want to leave the circus. Thus, he created a very funny and original routine with monkeys. My sister and I helped my father as best as we could, but since monkeys are predators, we were not allowed to work with them in the arena. We already had a dog named Milo at home, but monkeys brought new colours into our lives. Playing and caring for them, we became more attached to these animals. They always surprised us with their intelligence, dexterity, and ability to imitate us. I like to communicate with them. I assisted my father during performances for a long time, and finally my father allowed me to work as a trainer. Monkeys are gregarious animals and obey only their leader. Sometimes it makes me laugh when one of them, Gosha, looks at me and dad trying to guess which one of us he should obey. At the same time, one always have to be careful, as they are predators, and it’s not possible to know what surprise they have in mind next time."

“By the way, there is a lot of discussion now about the use of animals in the circus.”

“I largely agree with the proponents of the ban. There are many random people in the circus who are no better than poachers, but I want to tell you about the place animals occupy in the life of real artists. A circus artist will never pass by if any animal is in trouble. Since childhood, I have witnessed how trainers nursed small animals day and night, or took them home at night. In fact, there are few animals caught in the wild in the circus now. Animals performing in the arena were born in captivity. The circus also nurses animals rescued from poachers and affected by environmental pollution and natural disasters. Animals live here much longer than in nature. Often old animals are not handed over to the zoo, they remain to live in the circus. We have a twenty-year-old monkey called Chef, who helped my father to create our joint item. She no longer performs, and dad jokingly calls her ‘Missus Pensioner’. We all really care about her.”

"In Azerbaijan, we proudly watch your success at international circus festivals..."

"In 2011, I received an invitation to the 4th International Festival of Circus Art in Izhevsk, which was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the birth of my idol, artist and citizen, People's Artist of the USSR Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin. The jury consisted of the most prominent circus figures in the world. There were also many famous artists among the participants. I was very worried, as I expressed my desire to represent Azerbaijan at the festival. The organizers met me halfway. That’s when I felt for the first time what a great responsibility it was to represent my country. Now I have many awards and prizes, but the Special Prize of the State Circus of Udmurtia, which I won at that festival, is of particular importance to me. In 2015, I was invited to the 1st Israeli International Circus Festival held in Ashdod. My competitors were very strong. I was very nervous. But from the very first minutes the audience supported me so warmly that I performed easily. When I was announced the winner of the festival, I was shocked. The only thing I could do was write on social networks right after the victory: “Guys, I have the gold medal! Thanks to everyone who supported me!" After performing at the Idol-2016 international festival of circus art held at the Great Moscow Circus on Vernadsky Avenue, where I represented two countries - Azerbaijan and Russia - and was awarded the Special Prize of the festival, I was invited in 2017 to the 16th Moscow International Youth Festival, a tournament organised in the Y. V. Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. I had two routine called ‘The Monkey Corrida’ and ‘Artist’. I was awarded the bronze medal of the festival, received the award of the audience and was included in the circus program on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. 2018 brought me another victory - I won the gold award of the 31st April Spring International Festival held in Pyongyang. I am grateful to everyone who supports me, helps me find my way in the art."

"Is it difficult to live and work away from Azerbaijan?"

"I am the same age as the modern independent Azerbaijan. Due to almost endless tours, I can rarely visit Baku. But every event related to Azerbaijan deeply excites me. I get sincerely concerned about my country, and I rejoice its achievements. The historic victory in the Second Garabagh War, liberation of the occupied territories, including Zangilan, the homeland of my ancestors, gives me tremendous strength. I understand well that the struggle for independent Azerbaijan, for maintaining its international image continues in all spheres, especially in the art. Therefore, each artist must always be the first, be the best to glorify his homeland. Our team is made up of artists of different nationalities. When the Azerbaijani due Ell and Niki won the Eurovision-2011 contest, or when the whole team watched the colourful opening of the first European Games on TV, everyone came up and congratulated me, I was very proud of my country. Father often recalls the bright, original program of the Azerbaijani national team, in which he performed in the late eighties; he talks about our talented acrobats, tightrope walkers, horsemen, camel trainers, clowns. National costumes, wonderful music, colourful decoration perfectly complemented what was happening in the arena. Unfortunately, there is no organisation in Azerbaijan capable of gathering circus figures around itself. That’s why our artists have to work in other circuses around the world. I know many talented artists who could adequately represent their respective countries in the international arena."

"Anar, do you have a dream?"

"I also work in the Russian circus, but I cannot imagine my future without Azerbaijan. I’m dreaming of creating a performance that can reflect our rich national culture. My main dream is to represent my country in the most prestigious circus festival in the world annually held in Monte Carlo. The main award of the Monte Carlo festival–Golden Clown–can be compared to the famous Oscar award in cinema. Our artists have already performed at this festival, but, unfortunately, they represented other countries."


Today, the Azerbaijani national circus becomes increasingly popular. Our artists represent Azerbaijan throughout the world, glorifying Azerbaijan, surprising the audience with their strength, courage, dexterity, and unique abilities. On behalf of all compatriots, we wish Anar Jabrayilov a happy 30th birthday, as well as success in his difficult art and new awards at prestigious festivals.