Circus Overseas was a two-year project (2021-2022) facilitated by the Caravan Circus Network, which built on the Training for Trainers Program (Circus Transformation in Action) and the project partner’s expertise to develop a series of four trainings for youth workers and educators from the participating organisations based around the world. These training activities combined informal education and circus arts, fostering creativity, liberty, and intercultural dialogue while strengthening the pedagogic, management, and technical skills of the participants.
The project, which was accepted in 2019, was implemented in 2022.
There were some issues in the clarity of the objectives and fine details that were lost during the two years it was postponed; however, all the project activities were able to be implemented and made 2022 a fantastic year for the key international project of the network:
- 4 training activities (modules) across 3 continents.
- 2 in-person coordination meetings.
- 2 participants from each organisation attended each of the following 4 modules.
Testimony from Sarah Blanchard
Sarah participated in Module 4 at Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde (PPCM).
Representing Caravan, Circus Trainer/Artist from Ecole de Cirque de Bruxelles
Overall I enjoyed the week very much. The organisation worked very well for me; I enjoyed the fact that our hosts, PPCM, seemed uncomplicated and very welcoming. It could have been more intense for me personally, with more workshops and/or fixed (voluntary) open training spaces.
Throughout the week, there were many lessons learned, not only from the trainers, but from the other participants as well. Getting to know different circus artists from different countries, their professional backgrounds, and their creative history was enlightening and insightful. Getting to know other circus projects at PPCM, their training space, and a little bit about their pedagogy, philosophy, and history has broadened my perspectives on the potential of circus arts as a tool for social engagement and community wellbeing. The intercultural exchange’s focus on different creation methodologies opened my eyes to new ways of working, and the small insight into the different circus realities (visions, acceptance, accessibility, etc.) in different countries has motivated me to keep working hard to develop the sector.
The whole week was a very pleasant exchange. We developed a very strong connection among all the international artists very quickly, and it was a real pleasure creating together. It was interesting getting to know some of the artists-in-residence who were at PPCM at the same time as us and seeing some of their work, and allowing that to influence our creation process as well. The show on Friday night was a huge highlight for me. Sharing the stage with artists from all around the world enabled me to feel a sense of community and belonging in a truly international context.
This process showed me that you can create something powerful in a very short time, with people you didn’t know beforehand. This creation process is very personal and different from what I am used to, and at the same time, we found very few cultural and national differences. This highlighted that despite our geographical distance and diverse working methods, we all had common goals and a language that facilitated our creation process and allowed us to create together. The creation accentuated the very different styles of circus from the various artists and countries represented, and the fact there are a lot of different pathways to becoming a circus artist.
This week represents another little building block of who I am, who I want to be, and who I want to become as a circus pedagogue and artist. The overall experience was enriching, and I will always treasure this week of sharing and creating together.
Testimony from William Borrell
William participated in Modules 1, 2 & 3, representing Caravan Circus Network.
Circus Overseas was a fantastic learning experience for me as an administrator in a circus network and as a passionate circus pedagogue. The first module was the first in-person activity for the network after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. It was hugely rewarding to reconnect with our members directly and to facilitate an exchange of good practices, with a specific focus on cultural sensitivity, and learning from diverse geographical contexts.
Module 1 with Zip Zap Circus in South Africa gathered experts within various disciplines from the six participating countries to share training methods in each of these techniques. It was eye-opening to learn more about the Zip Zap Circus organisation, their outreach projects, and how they strive to create a better world for the young people living in poverty in and around Capetown. Their hard-working ethos and sense of family and community were inspiring and will influence the way I try to build communities in the future.
Module 2 with Phare Ponleu Selpak in Cambodia was eye-opening and inspiring in a different way. This arts centre developed organically in a refugee centre after the bloody civil war in the 70s, and it continues to strive to use many forms of performance and visual arts to create both opportunities for young people and a tool for societal inclusion and engagement. This module had a focus on Management and Leadership, and gathered strategic directors from the six participating organisations to see how different schools in different cultural and geographical settings implemented different strategies and visions to achieve similar goals.
This project has brought me closer to individuals at different levels of the participating organisations (administrators, artists, trainers, consultants, etc.), but it has also reinforced my knowledge and understanding of the organisations themselves and the environmental contexts they are situated in. I felt strong connections being developed between the partners, on a personal and organisational level, which I expect to see grow and develop further in the future. These kinds of projects allow us to feel a sense of proximity with each other, as well as develop tools for the network, and other interested stakeholders, to use in order to improve their working methods.
The memories and friends I made during the project will stay with me for life. I will continue to strive for excellence and build on the learnings we developed during the project, ensuring that they create value and benefits for as many individuals and organisations as possible.
We are sharing here the four toolkits from the modules. We encourage you to look at, download, print, and use them to develop various areas of your organization. (Click on the module images to download the documents. )
Module 1, Zip Zap Circus, South Africa: Circus Arts Technical Development
Improve competence in basic circus techniques.
Develop competence in sharing techniques and artistic specificity to peers in an international and multicultural setting.
Develop an artistic and professional network.
Module 2, Phare Ponleu Selpak, Cambodia: Managing and Leading Youth Circus Organisations
Develop strategic planning skills for youth and social circus managers.
Develop sustainable organisations to support young people.
Empower young people and enable succession through the organisation.
Develop strong leadership and team management skills.
Increase knowledge of international project funding opportunities.
Module 3, Altro Circo, Italy: Pedagogy and the Act of Teaching
Defining and setting achievable objectives adapted to the target group and to the context.
Planning the content and the learning sequences of a course.
Creating, adapting, or using research methodologies and pedagogical tools for the preparation, monitoring, and evaluation of a project.
Communicating effectively and adapting the mode of communication to the target group. Creating and ensuring a safe environment, taking into account the physical, environmental, and emotional safety of the participants.
Stimulating participants’ creativity by exploring various methods.
Module 4, Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde, France: Directing and Staging Circus
Develop artistic inspiration from various different esthetic conceptions in an intercultural setting.
Be able to present and discuss cultural specificities of circus esthetics in one’s own country.
Understand and discuss the key concepts of circus creation processes.
Develop an artistic and professional network.
Develop new professional opportunities.
For more information about the project, please have a look at Caravan’s Facebook page and Webpage. You can also sign up for their newsletter for regular updates from the network, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Project Partners: Caravan, Zip Zap Circus, Phare Ponleu Selpak, Altro Circo, Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde, Sirkus Magenta, & The Friends of the Palestinian Circus School Circus Overseas, a 2022 Project from the Caravan Circus Network was Co-Funded by Erasmus+...
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