Sven Demey (47) has been a teacher at the École Supérieure des Arts du Cirque (ESAC) in Brussels since 2004, taught for three years at the École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, wrote manuals for the FEDEC (European Federation of Professional Circus Schools) and moonlighted in the meantime at the Circushumaniora in Leuven. Those who have not heard of him, probably recognise the names of his students, Robin Leo, Alexander Vantournhout, Kenzo Tokuoka and Maxime Pythoud, to name just a few. So it won’t be a surprise to learn that Sven has a clear vision on contemporary circus. CircusMagazine spoke with him about the pedagogy of the future, artistic ambiguity and revolution.
When you were offered the teaching job at ESAC, you didn’t hesitate for long. You said goodbye to the world of top-sport and ‘ran away to the circus’.
Sven Demey: “I see myself as a creative person and I couldn’t do much with that in the world of top-sport. At ESAC I discovered that it is possible to combine extreme technical discipline with creativity and imagination: a true revelation! And that’s the biggest difference between those two worlds. There is nothing artistic about sport, whereas an ideal circus training pays attention to the artistic aspect from the very first day. As well as making that work fascinating, it also has an influence on the training method. The life of a professional gymnast is finished after a short and intense career. A circus artist who takes good care of their body can continue to work until they are 50 because the training can be built up more gradually. There is less pressure. From the moment you have a bit of technique, you can begin to experiment. The combination of the physical and the artistic offers endless possibilities and that’s what fascinates me. Unfortunately not all circus teachers share that fascination and too often the only thing being taught in the schools are technical skills.”
Link to Hanna Mampuys’s full interview with Sven Demey on Circus Centrum’s Circus Magazine.