Circus festivals epitomise the evolution of circus, however, during one of the festivals I worked at this season I had to explain that there are no more elephants in the circus these days. Apparently, this came across as strange to the person asking the question, and at first I didn’t think too much of it, but the more I looked I realised that as much as contemporary circus celebrates its evolution and departure from traditional circus, we still utilise its characteristics and format. Not without modern comforts and additions of course. I can now enjoy an impeccable flat white at the festival, and artists might stay in hotels rather than caravans, but visually the festivals are still borrowing the aesthetics of the golden age of traditional circus, so maybe it’s not so strange that some audiences feel like they get something else than what they bargained for at a festival. So I asked myself, as as a circus artist, how can we make festivals that are both inclusive to all styles and all audiences?
The more or less standardised format of pitching circus tents in an urban environment and setting up a fully loaded program over the span of a few weeks is a staple of the warmer season here in Europe. At a glance, modern circus festivals seem like the perfect fit for the art form. There’s both space for pitched tents, as well as theatre staging, and by booking both newly-founded companies and well known headliners, the festivals will aid in promoting up and coming circus, as well as support the curr...
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