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Concierge.com's insider take:
Stemming in part from the Russian tradition of balagan (clowning and tomfoolery), the circus is a national art form. Moscow has two: The Big Moscow State Circus on Prospekt Vernadskogo (near Moscow State University, and usually referred to as "the New Circus") presents a Vegas-style show mixed with old-school circus numbers. Although children pack the audience, the showgirls' rather revealing costumes are not exactly G-rated. The New Circus is also a bit of a haul from the center of Moscow, and its late–Soviet era facilities lack charm. Named after Russia's most famous clown, the late Yuri Nikulin, Nikulin's Circus ("the Old Circus") is more traditional, with somewhat less risqué costumes, and it has better, centrally located facilities. The show includes slapstick and acrobatics, as well as performances by bears, horses, monkeys, and dogs. There is a bit of banter and verbal shtick at both circuses, but it's accompanied by equally expressive, amusing gestures, so Russian-language skills are not required to enjoy the show. Buy your tickets in advance, especially if you plan to attend on a weekend or holiday. Tickets to the Old Circus range from about $13 to just under $85, depending on the seat location and exchange rate; the New Circus is cheaper, with tickets running from under $10 to about $50.
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