Théophile Gautier described the acts performed at the Cirque des Champs-Élysées, which was then reserved for equestrian exercises and gymnastics.
"First off, the great advantage of the Cirque [des Champs-Élysées] is that the dialogue is composed of two monosyllables, the hop from Mademoiselle Lucie and the la from Auriol. Is this not better that the mad waffle of melodramatic heroes, the smut of the comédie en vaudeville, the twisted phrases of the French, all tasteless, mindless platitudes that often cut into the other theatres? (...) And so here is a theatre where you are free from mistakes in French, from plays on words, where you are not forced to listen, where you can chat with a neighbour, where you are not suffocated as by other dramatic dampers: the air flows and circulates, the riders' flying scarves gently fan you; and if you look up, you will see, through the cracks of the velarium, the blue velvet blanket spotted by the stars of the clear summer night; the moon comes sometimes to mix in a familiar fashion its bluish reflection with the red light of the oil lamps. What could be more pleasant? The only drawback we could find is that there are no backrests behind the benches. But, after all, they are not necessary, as nobody wishes to sleep.
One could say that it is always the same white horse running in circles with a man standing on one foot. - Yes, but you can forever watch the horse with its rider posed as Zephyrus, and he would circle around until the end of time with your attentive eye always upon him. The interest of this drama staged on four legs consists in waiting to see whether the man will fall and break his neck. Nothing could be simpler and less complicated, and yet there is no theatre where the audience is as attentive."
Palmyre Annato at the Cirque National des Champs Elysées, colour print, 1875