2 3 Throwback Thursday and Rosa Richter | Ballet Webb

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Throwback Thursday and Rosa Richter

Throwback Thursday and Rosa Richter

Born in 1863, Rosa Maria Richter, whose stage name was Zazel, became the world’s first known human cannonball in 1877. She was fourteen years old at at the time. Her father was a talent agent and her mother was a dancer in the circus so she began taking dance classes early and performed as an acrobat and aerialist at the age of five.

But she wills always be remembered as a human cannonball. She was first shot into the air at the Royal Aquaruim in London, and the cannon that propelled her was invented by tightrope walker William Leonard Hunt. It consisted of a spring system accompanied by a gunpower charge that was set off to make it sound like a real cannon. Zazel flew out of the cannon into a waiting safety net.

This new stunt that seemed so perilous became a big draw and as many as 15,000 people gathered to watch her fly over their heads. Later Zazel became a part of P.T. Barnum’s circus in the United States.

Although she was often injured, it was in 1891 that she overshot the net and sustained a broken back that forced her to retire from the circus. But she and her husband started an opera company in which she sang. She also held exhibits promoting safety nets.

She died on December 8, 1937 in England.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
History Secret #252:
“Teenaged acrobat Rosa Richter was the first human cannonball.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent.”
― Erin Morgenstern

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