Thursday, April 5, 2012

Strong Women in History: Luisita Leers

Luisita LeersBy Olivia Lennox - Luisita Leers was a famous German circus acrobat and aerialist born Luise Krokel on 14th October 1909 in Wiesbaden, Germany. She came from a circus family; her mother, Gertrude Reichenbach, was also a touring acrobat. Luisita began training at a very early age and made her professional debut through the Roman Rings trapeze act in 1920 – at just 11 years old. She went on to find her fame through a particularly unusual and elegant trapeze routine, Les Leandros, when she was just 17 years old, and then went on to acquire leading roles in some of the world’s best and most extreme circus and acrobatics groups. This most notably included four years with Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey from 1928 – 1933. Her unique talent took her on tours around the world, performing at prestigious venues such as Berlin’s The Scala and Winterarten and New York’s Roxy Theatre.

Luisita achieved worldwide fame thanks to her daring and demanding routine, as well as for her unique beauty. Muscular women were as rare in the early twentieth century as bicycle insurance on a desert island; Luisita had an impressive and unusual muscular physique, yet she maintained a strong femininity. She reached the peak of her career around 1930, when she claimed she could easily perform around 180 “rotations” (around a trapeze bar) without any trouble. Her signature stage act usually involved around 120 rotations – once she reached 139 in a single performance – and highlights of the routine included hanging by her neck from the trapeze while doing a vertical split.

She was once described by top French magazine, Variety, "Luisita Leers… is not only a remarkable performer, from a purely acrobatic viewpoint, but has one of those smiles that knocks 'em over and a body that remains beautiful in spite of its extraordinary muscles. She works high without a net. Muscular control is so perfect that her stuff looks easy, but when she hangs by the back of her neck, apparently just as easily as she did her simpler introductory turns, the audience realizes there was something to it all along"

Luisita’s career ended when she was in her mid-thirties. She went on to settle in the USA, where she got married and became an artist.

Luisita Leers Luisita Leers

Luisita Leers Luisita Leers Luisita Leers

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