Journeys Through Queer Circus--Queer Training, Queer Art

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Pro Exclusive: Journeys Through Queer Circus–Queer Training, Queer Art: Present and Future

CircusTalk is pleased to present Journeys Through Queer Circus with Charles Batson, a series revolving around the culture and concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community in the circus environment. This series is dedicated to creating a space for queer voices to be heard and for queer art to flourish. Join us for a four-episode deep dive into queer circus as part of our continuing dedication to improving equity and inclusion in the arts, hosted by Dr. Charles Batson. In this episode, Batson showcases and foregrounds a vital element in the crafting of queer circus art: training and pedagogy. He speaks with four trainers / educators from different regions of the globe, and they reveal their experiences, strategies, and recommendations for making an even more queer circus in our present and future.

Known for his writing and directing, Dr. Charles Batson is a circus researcher and professor of French and Francophone studies and past president of the American Council for Québec Studies and also the Florence B. Sherwood professor of history and culture at Union College where he also co-chairs the LGBTQ+ Affairs committee. In the circus world, Charles Batson is best known for his writing (Cirque Global, Quebec’s Expanding Circus Boundaries) and of course for co-directing the academic seminar titled Circus & its Others.

In this episode, you will no doubt delight in this ride across a queer training universe with these four voices, as they generously share images of their art and work and as they thoughtfully challenge us all to examine the structures around us and strive for yet more visibility of not only queer art but the queer artists making it.  They all, amazingly, through tales of varying vocabularies and experiences, say that our circus worlds – and audiences – are ready now for yet more queerness, and that education and training are vital, vibrant aspects of helping make it all happen.   

Ania Upstill (they/them)

Clown, theatre maker, and teacher-New Zealand

Ania is a queer and non binary performer, director, theatre maker, teaching artist and clown. A graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre (Professional Training Program), Ania’s recent work celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists with a focus on gender diversity. In 2021 they have worked in New York and in New Zealand, co-creating the Queer ballet Sapphic Lake (BATS); Into the Bush, a queer circus-theatre project (TAPAC); and Proud Voices, an audio festival that played internationally in three major cities. Their solo clown show, Transhumance, was awarded a Best Weekly Award in Circus and Physical Theatre at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2020.

Adam Woolley (he/him)

Circus educator, advocate, and coach-United States

Adam has been in circus education for the past fifteen years. After leaving his position as Programs Director for PSCA and Creative Outreach Director for Circadium in 2021, he’s pleased to continue offering private lessons and small classes as Adjunct Faculty. He has served as the Safety Committee Chair for the American Circus Educators Association, has coached professionals around the country, and co-produced five international circus showcases as Circus Now’s Managing Director during his time living in NYC, working with SummerStage NYC and the NYU Skirball Theater. He has worked tirelessly as an advocate for circus arts, presenting at and helping to organize events for the Smithsonian Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP).

John-Paul Zaccarini (he/him)

Professor, performer, and activist-Sweden

John-Paul is Professor of Performing Arts at the Research Centre, Stockholm University of the Arts. A practitioner in theatre, dance, mime and circus with a focus on poetry and the spoken word, he has been both performer/auteur and director/dramaturge/ choreographer since 1992. He is currently researching the intersections between art, therapy and activism in his project FutureBrownSpace which is a creative space for BIPOC to work with Radical Healing and decolonizing artistic research in majority white institutions and fields.

Zed Cézard (iel/il/they)

Performer, academic, and coach-Canada

Zed, a circus artist with a PhD in art sciences, is a coach, speaker, and author. On the one hand, they have followed a scientific and academic trajectory around the issues of arts, culture, identity, gender, and transfeminism that has given rise to numerous publications about clowning. On the other hand, they have pursued a self-taught artistic path that allows him to work all over the world. In 2020, they participated in the 41st Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain where they won the two prestigious prizes: “Prix spécial du jury” and “Coup de coeur du festival” with their act of flying pole.

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Charles Batson

Circus academic! Co-convener of the Circus and Its Others research project and involved with the Montreal Working Group on Circus Research. Co-edited, with Louis Patrick Leroux, Cirque Global: Quebec's Expanding Circus Boundaries (McGill-Queens Univ Press, 2016). Research also involves queer, dance, and performance studies.