How It Began
Circus Hassani first opened its curtains on a cold windy day before Christmas in snow-covered Southend-on-Sea. It was 1979. This wonderful circus was created by Ali Hassani and Tamara Coco. Ali Hassani was originally from Morocco – he was a tumbler and the main bearer in human pyramids, supporting up to 12 men at one time. Tamara Coco was the daughter of Coco the Clown, and a very talented acrobat and trapeze artiste.
They met and married on Billy Smart’s Circus after which Tamara joined Ali as part of the Ifni Sahara Troupe. After many years of perfecting their craft they left to launch their own tumbling troupe. They took the name Hassani from an Islamic coin from the year 1336 and so The Hassani Troupe was born. It became renowned in the world of circus for the talented acrobats, beautiful costumes and a musical score, described as ‘Spitzenklasse’, written especially for them.
Ali and Tamara Hassani eventually opened Circus Hassani and later, Tamara Coco’s Circus. Both circuses were known for uniting artistic talent from around the globe and they were the first circuses in the UK to introduce the concept of an all human circus, that we now know as ‘Cirque’ style circus. After their debut in Southend-on-Sea they spent the summer touring the parks of central London – the tour did take them out of London but not too far, the furthest was Beccles in Suffolk. They were chosen as the resident circus by both Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures for over 18 years, starting the trend for resident circuses in theme parks.
After being an integral part of two of the largest theme parks in the UK, Circus Hassani went into hibernation until being revived by its current team, the next generation of this circus dynasty.
Circus Hassani is brought to you by Art of Circus, whose directors are Noel Wainman and Mina Hassani. Mina is one of Tamara and Ali Hassani’s three daughters. All three followed in their parents footsteps and began a career in circus by first being part of the Hassani Troupe. Having had her first press photograph taken at three days old with her Mum and Granddad Coco, Mina started her circus career as a tumbler and acrobat, going on to be an aerialist and illusionist.
Mina and Noel met while on tour with a circus in the UK. As with most people who are part of the circus world, their families had worked together. Noel had his first taste of circus as a baby as his mum, Jan, was one of the Circusette Showgirls at the Blackpool Tower Circus. Noel is well known in the circus world for building a huge range of circus equipment – props, vehicles, power distribution and lighting rigs – he is also a renowned lighting designer. Mina is also well known as costume designer ‘The Stitch Witch’. Mina and Noel worked for, designed, made and supplied equipment to many of the circuses in the UK and further afield while Circus Hassani stayed in the background. It was always a dream to bring it back – Mina and Noel are delighted to have done so.