Zippos circus welcomes circus legend to Brent

Billy Smarts granddaughter performs in England for the first time in 20 years

AS Zippo’s returns for its annual half-term spectacular in Brent Cross it welcomes back to London one of the world’s most respected circus performers for the first time in 20 years.

Yasmine Smart, grand daughter of the legendary Billy, will return with her troupe of dancing horses after two successful decades in Europe and the States.

The celebrated ring-mistress and horse-trainer is the only Smart still performing since the family circus and TV shows of the 70s wound down.

She said: “I’m the crazy one who continued in this circus world. I’ve been in the business for more than 40 years but I still love it and I still get butterflies.

Yasmine, who has been working with horses since she was 11, has been recognised more than any other artist at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo – the Oscars of the circus world – performing four times and becoming the only artist to win three awards.

But a modest Yasmine said: “I work closely with the horses but they are the stars. They dance to the music with people; it looks like we are playing together.”

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The theme of this year’s brand new show is horsepower; both real and mechanical, horses and motorbikes.

So topping the bill with Yasmine and performing for the first time in London is the Globe of Death, a group of crazy Columbians whose death defying act sees three motorbikes racing round inside a steel mesh-ball while a woman stands in the centre.

And supporting them will be the usual mix of talented clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and acrobats.

However, behind the scenes making it all happen will be creative director David Hibling.

Like Yasmine, he has been in the circus all his life becoming a ringmaster before moving into his present role 20 years-ago.

He said: “I told my mother that’s what I wanted to do after seeing Billy Smart’s circus when I was four. It does get tiring but it’s a way of life.”

“It’s unique, traditional and contemporary and it’s real in an age of computers. So much is technical and virtual these days but this is real people doing real things.

*Zippos Circus runs from February 18 – 27 in the coach park of Brent Cross shopping centre off the North Circular.

For tickets (�6 - �22) call 0871 210 2100 or visit