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Colleano on Tightwire Rehearsing at Home (c.1939)


This colour home movie footage, probably filmed by Winnie Colleano around 1939, shows tightwire performer Con Colleano rehearsing part of his routine in the backyard of his farm near Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Curator’s notes

This remarkable footage represents some of the only moving image examples that exist of Con Colleano’s famous tightwire act, an act he performed over a long international career. The material was probably filmed by Colleano’s wife, Winnie Colleano, with the 16mm Bell and Howell camera that they owned. While the footage has deteriorated over time, it does contain Colleano’s distinctive cape dance that he performed at the beginning of his act.

An Australian of Aboriginal, English and West Indian heritage, Con Colleano was part of a family of Australian circus performers in the early 1900s and began as a fighter in his father’s sideshow boxing ring. By the time he was a teenager, Colleano was performing on the tightrope and later moved on to the tightwire. His agility and balance (possibly developed through boxing) saw him create a unique dancing and somersault routine that made him internationally famous, although he was far less well known in his own country.

For another example of Colleano’s tightwire routine recorded around the same time, see Colleano on Tightwire, Rehearses in Arena.