Years of formally studying magic, balancing and theatre at Clown College in Moscow couldn’t prepare Yuri Kuklachev for the truly magical – the unexpected talent of a precocious stray kitten that single-handedly changed his life. It was quite a one-cat show, as the cat, later to become known as “Kut’ka,” danced on his hind legs and somersaulted through the air begging for his next meal. This special gray feline opened Kuklachev’s eyes to the possibility of disproving the widespread misconception that cats cannot be trained. With unprecedented patience, love and talent, Kuklachev has created the Moscow Cats Theatre.
Witnessing this amazing showcase of felines performing acrobatic feats in a visually bold and colorful theatrical setting, there is no question that the cats are indeed professionals. “The cats are the stars of this show – they walk tightropes, balance balls on their noses, do paw-stands, jump from great heights and unerringly negotiate complex mazes,” says Kuklachev. “We glorify them and that’s why we provide the cats with a traveling entourage including a vet, kitty caretakers and personal stylists to tend to the needs of our feline superstars.” Rumor has it that these nocturnal stars tend to prefer evening rehearsals.
Kuklachev is quick to dispute any claim of training the cats; rather, he emphasizes the use of affection and love in realizing the natural behavior of each individual cat and developing plot lines that suit each unique frolic. Because cats always show their emotions honestly, each cat’s performance is driven by an aspect of their natural disposition. Needless to say, catnip is never involved.
Staying true to the spirit of “Kut’ka,” the original “stray” performer, the majority of the cast members are strays that have been rescued either from the street or from shelters.
One might even call the show a “family circus.” Kuklachev’s wife, Lena, is a clown in the cat theatre and his eldest son, Dimitri, is his principal assistant along with being the leading expert on Russian TV in staging stunts with cats for commercials. Dimitri’s cats are the most famous feline actors, appearing in many Russian advertisements and endorsements.
Yuri Kuklachev is an international treasure who has performed in over 80 countries and received many prestigious international awards and accolades, including The People’s Artist in Russia, Honorary Member of the American Clown Association, the Silver Clown Award in Monte Carlo, the Golden Clown Crown in Canada, the Golden Oscar in Japan, a San Marino postage stamp and in France a chapter in their national grammar book titled “Lessons of Kindness.”
– Jessica Sabin