Sacred Arts Offers an Interdisciplinary Research Method for Circus and Beyond

Circus News

Sacred Arts Offers an Interdisciplinary Research Method for Circus and Beyond

This past March, Ben Yehuda Presspublished Under One Tent: Circus, Judaism and Bible, edited by Professor Ora Horn Prouser, Cantor Michael Kasper, and myself. The genesis of the book was a desire to discuss an academic method that was developed at the Academy for Jewish Religion called Sacred Arts. In the book we focus on how Sacred Arts works and has been successful using circus and dance to study sacred texts. The book pairs the explication of Sacred Arts with fascinating research by a group of international academics. While the book, for the most part, has a Jewish or religious spin to it, it also provides history, theory, and pedagogy that would be beneficial for any circademic. 
Sacred Arts is a method of using the arts to study text. It is not using text as a jumping off point to make art, nor is it using art as a reference point (among others) of interpretations of a text. It is my and the other editors’ belief that Sacred Arts should be seen as another academic method of studying texts equal to other approaches such as literary criticism, gender studies, or critical theory.  We have studied a number of texts through a range of circus arts including tightwire, juggling, human pyramids, and double trapeze. Unfortunately, Sacred Arts is really best understood by actually doing it! To help, however, I will provide one example from a Sacred Arts workshop that I think epitomizes the method. In this workshop, we were studying the Garden of Eden narrative. As in any circus Sacred Arts (1)...
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Ayal Prouser

Ayal Prouser has been a professional circus artist and coach for over 10 years. He is co-founder of Time Flies Circus, a mobile circus school. He has performed and taught across the United States as well as in Asia, Europe and Africa. Ayal has received funding from the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, the Jerome Foundation, Clark University and Columbia University for circus research and creation. His graduate work at Columbia University was on the intersection of queer theory and film theory, and circus studies. He has multiple publications on the subject of circus. He is the editor of “Under One Tent: Circus Judaism and Bible” and his work can be found elsewhere including ”The Big Top on the Big Screen: Explorations of the Circus in Film” as well as in journals. His main circus disciplines are flying trapeze and juggling. He is especially interested in bringing flying trapeze more fully into the contemporary circus world.