Circus Bodies: Meaning Makers and Culture Creators

Circus News

Circus Bodies: Meaning Makers and Culture Creators

Circus bodies, as a topic, is enormously complex. The angles from which one could approach the subject are limitless. Circus bodies, as performing bodies, are important producers of culture. They supply us with new knowledge by shifting perceptions and pushing against norms. Taking all of this into consideration, Circus Talk is diving in head first. From February through July 2021, we are producing a series of articles and panel discussions that will focus on circus bodies. The series will explore and invite conversation about aging, fat, gendered, disabled and BIPOC/BAME circus bodies. It will also cover sideshow circus bodies and artists who use their body for extreme circus acts. Each event will be crafted with an acute and sensitive awareness that it is impossible to encapsulate the individual nuances, intersectionalities, stereotypes, and cultural perceptions that any individual or group experiences at any point in a circus career. 
I’m sitting at my kitchen counter. It’s late afternoon, and I’m still in my pajamas. I’m sifting through my circus library in search of thoughtful references about circus bodies. It’s proving impossible — circus bodies are everywhere! Authors may not advertise circus bodies as their topic, but rare is a piece of research or writing that does not rely on the corporeal evidence produced by performing circus bodies. I often hear in conversations that western contemporary circus performances showcase the young, able, athletic, cismale, white body as the norm. The goal of this series is to give space to and lift up a variety of voices (and bodies) that do not identify with these modifiers, and to be an additional platform for active and ongoing conversations. ...
To access exclusive PRO content …
Become a CircusTalkPro member today!
Get access to the essential resource for the multidisciplinary performing arts industry.
Get PRO

Madeline Hoak

Madeline Hoak is an artist and academic who creates with, through and about circus. She is an Associate Editor for CircusTalk, Adjunct Professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, a member of the American Circus Alliance's EDI committee, and the Editor and Curatorial Director of TELEPHONE, an international arts game. Madeline has performed, coached, produced, and choreographed at elite regional and international venues. Her background in dance and physical theater are infiltrated into her coaching and creation style. She is passionate about providing her students holistic circus education that includes physical, historical, theoretical resources. Madeline initiated the Aerial Acrobatics program at her alma mater, Muhlenberg College, where she taught from 2012-2017. She is also a regular contributor to Cirkus Syd's Circus Thinkers international reading group. Her circus research has been supported by Pace, NYU, and Concordia University. Recent publications include "Teaching the Mind-Body: Integrating Knowledges through Circus Arts'' (with Alisan Funk, Dan Berkley), a chapter in Art as an Agent for Social Change, "expanding in(finite) between," a multimedia essay in Circus Thinkers: Reflections, 2020, and "Digital Dance & TELEPHONE: A Unique Spectator Experience." Madeline has presented academic papers at numerous conferences including Circus and it’s Others (UC Davis), the Popular Culture Association, Gallatin (NYU), and McGill University. Madeline earned an MA from Gallatin, New York University’s School of Independent Study, where she designed a Circus Studies curriculum with a focus on spectatorship. madelinehoak.com