Leonid Yengibarov

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Leonid Yengibaryan

Leonid Engibaryan.JPG

Statue of Leonid Yengibaryan in Tsakhkadzor
Born March 15, 1935
Died July 25, 1972(1972-07-25) (aged 37)
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Vagankovo Cemetery, Moscow
Nationality Armenian
Occupation clown and actor
Partner(s) Jarmila Galamkova
Children Barbara Yengibarova (Born in 1965)
Leonid Yengibarov 2011 Armenian stamp Leonid Yengibarov 2011 Armenian stamp.jpg
Leonid Yengibarov 2011 Armenian stamp

Leonid Georgievich Yengibarov (Armenian : Լեոնիդ Ենգիբարյան; Russian : Леонид Георгиевич Енгибаров; March 15, 1935 – July 25, 1972) was a Soviet clown and actor.

Armenian language Indo-European language

The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken primarily by Armenians. It is the official language of Armenia. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. Armenian is written in its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.



Leonid Yengibarov was born in Moscow to an Armenian father and a Russian mother. He started his career as a boxer. In 1955 he joined the State School of Circus Art, Clownship department. He graduated from Circus school with skills in juggling, acrobatics, and hand balancing. After graduation in 1959 he moved to Yerevan and joined the Armenian state circus. [1]

Moscow Capital city of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

Armenians ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland

Armenians are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.

Russians are a nation and an East Slavic ethnic group native to European Russia in Eastern Europe. Outside Russia, notable minorities exist in other former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine and the Baltic states. A large Russian diaspora also exists all over the world, with notable numbers in the United States, Germany, Brazil, and Canada.

He was one of the first Soviet clowns to create the poetic, intellectual clownery, which made spectators think, not only laugh. Leonid Yengibarov, 'the clown with sad eyes', revolutionized the art of clownery by introducing lyrical tones into traditional buffoonery and grotesque sequences. [2] According to the Spectacle journal,

"he has shown the direction. He was the innovator. He began to do clown gags that were not funny, but very sad. They ended sadly. He felt that life was not funny anymore". [3]

After initial incomprehension, his popularity grew immensely. After that he was invited to work in cinema. His first film, A Path to the Arena, was in fact about himself.

By the end of the 1960s he was known as one of the best clowns in the country and in the countries of the Eastern bloc, where he was permitted to travel. His circus career came to a halt in 1971: he left the State Circus when his partner was banned from international touring. He created a Variety Pantomime Theatre (Estradniy teatr pantomimi) instead. [4] However officially he was forbidden to call his company “theatre”, only allowed to use the term “troupe” (ансамбль). He managed to stage only a single piece, “Star Rain” before his untimely death from a massive heart attack.

His work continues influencing other artists including Slava Polunin. [5]

Slava Polunin Russian clown

Vyacheslav Ivanovich “Slava” Polunin PAR is a Russian performance artist and clown. He is the creator of the stage spectacles Asisyai-revue, Slava's Snowshow and Diabolo.

His friend Vladimir Vysotsky wrote a shrill poem "To memory of the actor; To Yengibarov from the audience". Alla Pugacheva dedicated her song "Arlekino" to Yengibarov: "He was my favourite clown and even died while working. Just think: he died from laughter". [6]

Vladimir Vysotsky Soviet singer, songwriter, poet and actor

Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky was a Russian singer-songwriter, poet, and actor whose career had an immense and enduring effect on Soviet and Russian culture. He became widely known for his unique singing style and for his lyrics, which featured social and political commentary in often humorous street jargon. He was also a prominent stage and screen actor. Though his work was largely ignored by the official Soviet cultural establishment, he achieved remarkable fame during his lifetime, and to this day exerts significant influence on many of Russia's popular musicians and actors years after his death.

Alla Pugacheva Soviet-Russian singer

Alla Borisovna Pugacheva, is а Soviet and Russian musical performer. Her career started in 1965 and continues to this day. For her "clear mezzo-soprano and a full display of sincere emotions", she enjoys an iconic status across the former Soviet Union as the most successful Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity.


Films about him


See also

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  1. Historical Dictionary of Russian Theater - Page 111, by Laurence Senelick - 2007
  2. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Russian Culture - Page 446, by Smorodinskaya, - 2013
  3. Spectacle: A Quarterly Journal of the Circus Arts - Volume 2 - Page 8, 1998
  4. Historical Dictionary of Russian Theater, by Laurence Senelick, Scarecrow Press, 2007, p. 112
  5. "Return to childhood with Slava's Snow Show at Southbank Centre". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  6. Red Stars: Personality and the Soviet Popular Song, 1955-1991, by David MacFadyen - 2001, p. 216