* 18. September 1935 in Ascona, Ticino;
† 19. Juli 2016 in Borgnone, Ticino
Dimitri was born in Ascona. His father was a sculptor and painter; his mother made imaginative creatures out of textile remnants. At the age of seven he decided to become a clown. He became an apprentice potter and at the same time he took theatre classes and studied music as well as ballet and acrobatics. Then he went to Paris where he studied mime with Etienne Decroux and became a member of Marcel Marceau’s troupe. He appeared as “Auguste” with the famous white clown Maïss at Circus Medrano in Paris.
In 1959 he appeared for the first time in a programme of his own in Ascona and soon followed tours throughout the world, as well as three tours with Circus Knie.
In 1971, together with his wife Gunda, he founded the Teatro Dimitri in Verscio, in 1975 the Scuola Teatro Dimitri and in 1978 the Compagnia Teatro Dimitri for which he has created and directed over the years several plays. In the year 2000 Dimitri founded together with Harald Szeemann the Museo Comico in Verscio.
Along with many other prices and honourings, Dimitri received in 2009 the Swiss Award for Culture and in 2013 the Swiss Lifetime Award.
The day before his sudden death on 19th July 2016 Dimitri was still performing in his theatre in Verscio. He remains one of the world’s best clowns who not only made his public laugh but with his poetic mind and generous heart also deeply touched the audience.