People of Color in Contemporary Circus

Circus News

People of Color in Contemporary Circus: A Long Table Discussion

Two long folding tables covered with white paper are arranged in the center of a studio at Gibney Dance. Colorful markers are strewn about. Gibney, a prominent dance institution in New York City hosts a myriad of community events; Long Table discussions are one of them. This discussion, entitled ‘People of Color in Contemporary Circus’, was extremely well attended and lasted over two hours. There was a lot of laughter as stories were shared and thoughtfulness as questions were posed. Much more was said than what this series of articles can summarize; highlights from the conversation have been extracted here. The aim of these articles is to, in the spirit of the Long Table Discussion, be yet another avenue through which the conversation can continue. And most importantly, give space for the voices of people of color in contemporary circus.
The core participants for the evening sat at the table: Kiebpoli “Black*Acrobat” Calnek, burlesque performer Denae “Ravenessa” Hannah, Paris the Hip Hop Juggler, and Susan Voyticky, Artistic Director of Loki Circus Theater. These professionals helped guide the conversation, but anyone was welcome to sit at the table, share thoughts, and ask questions. Monique Martin, Director of Programming at Harlem Stage and the event’s guest host, be...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline Hoak is an artist and academic who creates with, through, and about circus. She is a Writer for CircusTalk, Adjunct Professor of Aerial Arts and American Circus History at Pace University, Editor and Curatorial Director of TELEPHONE: an international arts game, and curator and director of Cirkus Moxie, a weekly contemporary circus show at Brooklyn Art Haus. Madeline has performed, coached, produced, and choreographed at elite regional and international venues. Her background in dance and physical theater is 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 Thinks: Reflections, 2020, and "Digital Dance & TELEPHONE: A Unique Spectator Experience." Madeline has presented academic papers at numerous conferences including Circus and its Others (UC Davis), International Federation for Theatre Research (University of Reykjavík), 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.