The Risk of Circus Studies: Mapping the Current Landscape in US Higher Education - CircusTalk

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The Risk of Circus Studies: Mapping the Current Landscape in US Higher Education

It was spring semester at Muhlenberg College.  My Aerial 2 class and I were discussing how television was a detrimental development to performing arts, particularly circus. “Why didn’t we learn about this in my communications class? We just studied the impact of television on American culture,” a student blurted out.
This is just one instance in a decade of teaching collegiate aerial arts courses in which students have expressed confusion tinged with resentment that they don’t learn about circus anywhere else. I took note, reflected on my own degrees in dance and theater and swapped stories with other artists and academics. It seems American education is strewn with holes that circus could fill. Why didn’t circus make it into the education system? Is this a purely an American phenomenon? What would change if it was more valued and visible in academia? I decided to do some digging. Over the past six months, I have had the pleasure of interviewing over a dozen circus scholars, authors, professors and directors of professional training programs in North America on the topic. Similar ideas and phrases were said over and over again in these interviews. Everyone’s experiences were surprisingly alike. This is the narrative of an entire community, not a singular trai...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline is a NYC based performer, producer, professor, and choreographer specializing in aerial, acrobatics, dance and movement direction. She is an adjunct professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, on staff at Aerial Arts NYC and The Muse Brooklyn and initiated the Aerial program at Muhlenberg College where she taught from 2011 - 2017. Her movement direction contributed to Circle Theater NYC’s production of The Mountain winning Outstanding Original Choreography/Movement, 2015. She co-choreographed The Battles, a musical voted by Broadway producer Ken Davenport one of the top 10 new scripts of 2016. Madeline's choreography has been presented at Dixon Place, Circus Warehouse, BAX, The House of Yes, Abron Arts Center, Times Square, The Flea, STREB, Galapagos, and The Muse. She received BAs in Dance and Theater from Muhlenberg College and is currently studying at NYU’s Gallatin school of Individualized Study where she is designing a master’s degree in circus studies with a focus on dramaturgy and creative processes. madelinehoak.com.