For most of us, four decades of existence can result in crow’s feet and beer bellies. For Cirque de Demain, 40 years means maintaining the fountain of youth that is the Festival Mondial, running January 31-February 2 in Paris. “This year the Festival will be blowing out his 40th candle! This is a confirmation of the success of this exceptional competition that continues to astonish and enchant a various public year after year. This year four members of the jury and all the guests are gold medal winners and former artists,” says Bernadette Pierron, a member of the administrative council.
Confirmed guest performers include Chih-Hin Chao (38th Fest Gold Medalist), Aimé Morales (35th Fest Gold Medalist), Dima Shine (28th Fest Gold Medalist), and Enkhtsetseg Lodi (6th Fest Gold Medalist). Another celebration of the anniversary is the release of a richly illustrated book about the Festival, A Vessel of Joy by Florence Douroux. “It gives voice to the artists and professionals who have graced the stage of the Festival over the last decade, ” says Bernadette Pierron.
The four-day festival was founded for young artists to share their circus talents with international juries and enthusiastic audiences. Four years ago, Club PRO was added for the industry to enhance and formalize the casual contacts made each year at the various presentations and conferences.
During previous festivals, the community of artists and professionals met by accident. Club PRO now purposely makes connections, such as setting up meetings and securing contracts, to utilize the time and space as well as to attract more professionals.
Cirque de Demain Vice President Pascal Pierron said, “The idea is to create exchanges and points of interaction in our meeting spaces or in the Dome, organizing conferences or drinks among competing artists, partners, and jury members.
There’s also an online component to publish news and send messages, to “create a worldwide platform and sharing space,” adds Vice President Pascal Jacob. Discussions begun in person at a casting presentation or a new technologies seminar can grow and prosper in the ether once the Festival is over.
The platform is for new as well as seasoned Festival-goers, including artists, designers, suppliers, producers, distributors, casting agents, or company and school heads.
Club PRO members garner more visibility and VIP networking experiences before, during and after the actual event. PRO partnerships also offer website banners, program advertisements, and other opportunities, providing an outlet to publicly support the Festival and ensure its longevity.
In 2019, social circus will be a prominent PRO discussion topic, including its definition, visibility, and concrete impact. Among the workshops will be feedback presentations from the first Demain’s Volunteers, the Wise Fools trio, and Laurence Esteve, the Zip Zap director, alongside other meetings, lunches, and, of course, cocktails. Bernadette Pierron describes the impetus for this project, “For the last three years, the Festival has provided a space for presentations on social circus activities as part of the conferences organised by its Club PRO. After hearing the passionate and touching stories of those working in social circus around the world, we wanted to contribute in our own way to the development of exchanges and partnerships between social and professional circus structures. That’s how Demain’s Volunteers was born. The aim of the project is to take high-level circus artists, train them in how to teach their skills and send them abroad to volunteer in social circus schools working with young people and aspiring circus artists around the world!”
Cirque de Demain’s website just announced the official line up of the competitors this year, and more details about the festivities planned for this 40th anniversary of the event will be forthcoming.
All photos courtesy of V. Thénard Béal. Feature photo of Etha Struick presenting a social circus workshop about Nieuw Circus.