CirCommons is an interactive journal that aims to draw together the circus community through collective discussion and writing. Written by the community, curated and edited by the Circus Now Research Team, CirCommons will act as a reservoir of ideas pertaining to the practice and study of circus arts. Though circus has a long history, parameters for a common vocabulary and theoretical foundation are unclear. CirCommons addresses this issue by calling for publications that examine the state of circus, past and present. By providing a platform for vigorous discussion, debate, and reflection, CirCommons aims at enriching the artistic and academic investigation of contemporary circus, and facilitating the entrée of US circus studies into the sphere of performance studies broadly.

See this months provocation

This month we will investigate the nature of training – where has it been, where is it going, and where should it go?

We invite submissions from teachers and program administrators across the full spectrum of circus training: What do you teach – to whom do you teach it – where do you teach it – and why do you teach it? We want to hear about your program, your aims, your curricula, your successes, your frustrations, your ambitions. Performers – tell us about your own training – how did you begin? Where did you train? What did you study? How long did you study? Is the training you had still available now – and should it be?


Submission Instructions

  • Deadlines: “Open Submissions” are rolling.  Responses to “Provocations” should be submitted by the deadline posted at the bottom of that issue’s Provocations.

  • We will consider either queries or drafts.  

  • Submissions should be accompanied by a professional bio of 100-150 words.

  • Essays should be no longer than 1000 words; there is no minimum.  For longer submissions, please query first.

  • Send submissions to info@circusnow.org.

  • Our editing team will review all submissions; selected writing will be edited in cooperation with the author.

Women & Circus: Jen Crane & CirquePhysio Part 2

Last month we recapped Jen Crane of CirquePhysio's blog posts related to the shoulder. We went through the basic outline of the muscle groups and their function, the circus lats - how to assess their flexibility and ...
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Women & Circus: Jen Crane & CirquePhysio Part 1

Last month, we interviewed Michele Frances, aerialist and PT, based in Austin, TX. She provided a video tutorial on hip anatomy and shared her perspective on aerial training as a coach and physical therapist. When ...
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Women & Circus: Michele Frances, Physical therapist and Aerial artist

Michele Frances is a multi-award winning professional aerial coach & performer, Physical Therapist, Certified Pilates Instructor, and strength training specialist. She has been coaching and performing aerial arts for over 12 years and currently resides ...
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Bringing Art to Outdoor Circus: Montreal Completement Cirque 2016

I happened upon Montreal Complétement Cirque quite incidentally three years ago while studying French in Chicoutimi, a small city in the north of Quebec. As a circus artist, I was surprised to find this incredibly vibrant ...
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Women & Circus: Canada’s Indigenous Communities

The state of Canada’s Indigenous communities, which make up vastly diverse peoples across the country, represent some of the most tragic and devastating parts of Canadian history. The government of Canada was responsible for the ...
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The Role of Competition in Circus Arts

Circus Now's Adam Woolley recently hosted a panel discussion, coordinated by US Aerial regarding the role that competition plays in circus arts. Panelists included: Tami Joy Schlichter of US Aerial, Samuel Roy, Talent Scout at Cirque ...
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Ricochet in Circus City

I was recently commissioned to broadcast a live Tweet from a public discussion hosted by Circus City in Bristol with American circus duo Ricochet Project as they discussed their work, including award-winning show Smoke & ...
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Women & Circus: Suzi Winson & Circus Warehouse, the melting pot of nice

Managing safety, egos and space. With the rapid growth in the recreational circus sector, studios must be competitive and find their niche while  students navigate their loyalties, and teachers and performers establish relationships and find ...
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Women & Circus – Nathalie Hébert: from Artist to Booking Agent & Circus Arts Administrator

Women & Circus sat down with Nathalie Hébert, booking agent for Cirque le Roux, Gynoïdes, and The Ricochet Project, to talk about what it is like to be a circus arts administrator and her perspective ...
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Women & Circus: Bouncing Back to Fitness After Breast Cancer by Lisa Furlong Jones

This is the first in a three part series on fem40fitness.com about Lisa’s journey as an extremely fit woman over 40, diagnosed with breast cancer.  My name’s Lisa and I’m about 3 months out from ...
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Part 2 – Disappearing Acts: Updating the Contemporary Circus

If you didn't catch the Part 1, read it here. Circus, Non-Metaphorically: The Artist and the Athlete To begin a reflection on circus from within circus, we might first ask: what could we propose as its ...
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Women & Circus: Clowning with Sonia Norris

“I turned to clown because I didn’t know what else to do. I had to learn to bounce back, and I had to learn about resiliency. Clown is about resiliency and survival and bouncing back ...
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Women & Circus: Interview with Patti Miller at Aerial Animals

Women & Circus sat down to interview long time CN supporter Patti Miller at Aerial Animals, about what it’s like to manufacture equipment for circus arts. After five years of sailing around the world, Patti ...
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Disappearing Acts: Updating the Contemporary Circus

“With the void, a free hand”¹ — Albert Camus on Yves Klein’s empty exhibition The Void, 1958 I wrote this article in response to my own experiences as a circus viewer and maker. I had ...
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The Art of Vulnerability: An Interview with Cohdi Harrell of Ricochet

Ariel Schmidtke: Can you explain a bit about your creation process? Smoke and Mirrors is very philosophical and I am curious to know if you start with an issue you wish to investigate and then ...
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Women & Circus recaps the ‘Queer Circus’ panel from CCCF 2015

Does contemporary circus have the potential to nurture and rightfully represent ourselves onstage: Our bodies, sexual preferences, identities and communities? Will it be effective in breaking down gender divides and heteronormativity in ways that create ...
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Equilibrium: Finding the Balance Between Funding and Performing

In the autumn of 2014 I received a Grants for Artists Projects (GAP) award from the Seattle-based organization Artist Trust to finish purchasing the equipment I needed to complete my first solo show, Equilibrium. Artist ...
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Marie-Andrée Robitaille – Gynoïdes

Marie-Andrée Robitaille began her circus education in 1995 at the École de Danse de Québec and went on to graduate from the National Circus School in Montréal, Canada. She toured the world with the Swedish ...
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Steph Kehoe of Women’s Circus in Melbourne, Australia

Women’s Circus began in 1991 as a community arts project dedicated to using circus to work with survivors of violence in Melbourne, Australia. It has since expanded to include circus training, performance and outreach programs ...
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Entrepreneurs of Circus: Suzanne Kenney

Women & Circus interviewed Suzanne Kenney for the fourth article in our series, 'Entrepreneurs of Circus'. School: Pendulum Aerial Arts Location: Portland, Oregon Director: Suzanne Kenney Status: Not for Profit Students: 100 Women & Circus: ...
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Entrepreneurs of Circus: Elsie Smith & Serenity Smith Forchion

Elsie Smith & Serenity Smith Forchion share the spotlight for our third feature in the Women & Circus series 'Entrepreneurs of Circus'. School: New England Centre for Circus Arts (NECCA) Location: Brattleboro, VT Director: Serenity Smith Forchion (Executive ...
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July / August Provocations

CirCommons #4:  What Do We Teach - and Why? The contemporary circus is in flux - and so is training. On the one hand, we are witnessing a proliferation of circus programs for children and ...
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May / June Provocations

CirCommons #3: What is Circus Dramaturgy? And how is it created, and by whom? What elements determine the dramaturgical structure of a circus? Thrill? Emotional arc? Narrative? Theme? Imagery? DRAMATURGY: the art or technique of ...
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Krin Haglund: One Woman, Many Talents

Krin Haglund is a keen multi-disciplinary artist—at home on the stage as a soloist; in the company of big-names like Cirque Éloize, 7 doigts de la main, and the infamous Soleil; or traveling an alternative ...
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Entrepreneurs of Circus: Shayna Swanson

Shayna Swanson is our second feature in the Women & Circus series 'Entrepreneurs of Circus'. Name: Shayna Swanson School: Aloft Loft Type of business: S-corp Number of students: 250 Location: Chicago, IL Women & Circus: ...
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In the round – thus its name: A conversation with Dominique Jando

For Dominique Jando, hybridity – where circus meets theatre on a small-scale stage – is the death knell of tradition. And end of tradition could signal the end of innovation. - Kathryn Syssoyeva, Editor Kathryn: ...
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Old and New: Two Sides of One Coin? Former Pickle Judy Finelli weighs in on tradition

Where and when did the circus begin? This is a complex question with no easy answers. The circus as we would recognize it today is most often credited to the ex-cavalryman Philip Astley. Circa 1768, ...
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The virtuosity of the ordinary: A Conversation with Avner (“the Eccentric”) Eisenberg

For Avner the Eccentric, the clown's traditional role is intermediary - between circus and audience. - Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva, Editor Avner Eisenberg began our conversation about circus tradition by sharing the opening of his book ...
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Clowns on a good day. Clowns on a bad day. A Reflection on the Circus of Politics.

The word circus can be used positively or negatively: to describe an artistic event or, as the dictionary states, “a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment.” Positively, we have ...
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Reflections from a Circus-goer

In response to the Provocations we posed on circus and audience, Nia teacher and retired science writer Patti Rieser shared with us her experience of being a circus-goer in Durham, North Carolina. What "types" of ...
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Aerial Dance, Circus & The Future: Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has literally written the book on aerial dance. As Founder and Creative Director of Frequent Flyers® Aerial Dance, she leads her company in conceptualizing original work and nurturing new artists. Based in Boulder, ...
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Entrepreneurs of Circus: Aloysia Gavre

School: Cirque School LA Location: Los Angeles, CA Director: Aloysia Gavre Status: For-Profit Students: Approximately 600 per month Women & Circus: What do you think has contributed to the success of your circus school? Aloysia ...
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Circus Audience Training Camp

When my daughter Ellie started performing, I would watch from the audience with my hands over my eyes. I would peek through tiny slits in my fingers—just enough space to see her dangle from a ...
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PEÑASCO THEATER RESIDENCY

PEÑASCO THEATER RESIDENCY: Cultivating Creative Space for Circus Artists in the U.S. As circus artists in the States, many of us struggle to reconcile our soaring visions with perceived limitations to our options and resources ...
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The Circus According to Cecil

The Circus According to Cecil is a new documentary which follows ringmaster and clown Cecil MacKinnon as she directs a performance with Circus Flora and the St.Louis Symphony Orchestra. Through Cecil’s experienced eyes, much is revealed ...
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February Provocations

FEBRUARY PROVOCATIONS CirqueTheory:   Who Goes to the Circus- And Why? What "types" of audiences does circus draw? Do circus-goers vary from region to region? Is the audience for theatre and dance the same as for ...
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From Sideshow to Scholar

Liz Baranowicz recently presented her Bachelor’s thesis at the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association national conference in Chicago. I talked with her about her progression from a part-time circus performer and student of sociology ...
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LSU at Edinburgh Fringe

As a circus writer based in central England, one of my biggest surprises this summer was discovering Origin at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Origin is a work of aerial - and structural - physical theatre by students ...
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Walker in the Sky

“I want to know how this guy gets to close down traffic for hours to do this stunt.” “How much did this cost the city?” “Who in their right mind would want to walk across ...
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Ladies of the Ring

Dr. Janet Davis, circus society expert and associate professor in the Department of American Studies at University of Texas Austin, chronicles the historical significance of the female big top performer as a durable champion of ...
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Taking the Leap: Pros on Going Pro

As part of our ongoing webinar series, we invite you to join us Sunday, December 7 at 4pm PST / 7pm EST for Taking the Leap: Lessons from Professional Performers on Going Pro, the first of a collection of ...
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Stacy Clark: Talent Scout for Cirque du Soleil

For our inaugural interview, Women & Circus sat down with Stacy Clark, Talent Scout for Cirque du Soleil, to talk about her career, her experiences in circus, and how she sees the art form evolving ...
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Circus As Adaptation

If you asked me two years ago what I was doing with my life, I would have answered “I just got back from a training trip from Montreal, now I’m finalizing a contract to go ...
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Circus as a tool for expression in the midst of war

I met Ronny Kalev while she was teaching an advanced aerial class at the Israeli Acrobatic Convention. I knew immediately after the class that I wanted to pick her brain about circus. Her teaching wasn't ...
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American students Abby & Michelle at Flic in Italy

This summer, I caught up with Abby Neuberger and Michelle Troszak at a contemporary circus festival in Paimpont, a small town in the Northwest corner of France. They are students at Flic, a full-time circus ...
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Teaching “Circus” in a College Honors Class

The Academic Team is pleased to present our first article written by a guest writer. Pamela Ford is an anthropology professor at Mt. San Jacinto College in California. She recently created a seminar course that ...
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CN Seattle Interviews Terry Crane, Artistic Director of Acrobatic Conundrum

Hello avid circus readers! My name is Katheryn Reed and I am the new co-captain of Circus Now's Seattle Chapter. CN Seattle is just getting its feet under us, but I can't tell you how ...
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Pig Iron Theatre School’s 3 Vocabularies: Dance, Clown & Theatre

Pig Iron Theatre Company was founded in 1995 by a group of artists with an interest in dance, clown and theatre. These three vocabularies and territories of performance have guided the company for the last ...
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Perspectives – A response to: What does circus have that dance doesn’t?

This piece is a response to Sebastian Kann's article Running away to the studio, what does dance have that circus doesn’t? My response will make much more sense if you read his piece first. I ...
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New York International Contemporary Circus Festival

The New York International Contemporary Circus Festival brings North American circus, along with one international piece, to Marcus Garvey Park for three days of free, outdoor shows. The second edition of the festival will take ...
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Acro, King of the desert

Every year in late May or early June, Jews around the world celebrate Shavuot, commemorating when the Israelites received the ten commandments at the foot of Mount Sinai in the middle of the desert. For ...
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Running away to the studio: What does dance have that circus doesn’t?

Why is contemporary circus so often less dramaturgically rigorous than dance? Dance sometimes seems like Circus’ sophisticated older sister—more confident, fully-formed, less desperate to please. Maybe by closely observing the differences between the circus world ...
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Rigging, Behind the Scenes – Part 2: Safety & Mechanics

Our second interview with Brett Copes comes at a crucial time. One can’t talk about rigging without taking about safety, and Brett had a lot to say on this topic. Everyone has the right to ...
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The Celebration of Circus in Mad Country

Madison, Wisconsin is home to the newly-founded Madison Circus Space (MCS). I stopped in for a visit to learn about  its origins, how it is managed, and how it differs from other institutions. Throughout the course ...
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What is the definition of ‘circus’?

In the first half of the last century, circus meant one thing only—a tented show, with acrobats, animals, and clowns. These shows were pure spectacle, displays of unusual skill which transcended the day-to-day experience of ...
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The Importance of the Imperfect

The academic Team is on the clock, and as we embark together on this journey of thinking and writing circus from an academic perspective, we wanted to break the ice with the first 'circ-essay'. Below ...
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Moving from the core: An Anatomy lesson

Our bodies are incredible. We ask them to walk, run, hang, swing, twist, and flip. All of these movements are brought about by coordinated patterns of muscles firing to move joints into the appropriate positions at the ...
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Zimmerman & de Perrot: Hans Was Heiri

Disconcertingly, Zimerman and de Perrot’s Hans Was Heiri begins with subtraction. A lone figure—Dimitri de Perrot, the show’s musician—enters stage left, sits down at a DJ station, and begins to tinker. All of a sudden, the ...
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Behind the Scenes with a Rigger: Brett Copes

Have you seen them? Hanging high in the ceilings, twisting the laws of physics. They are a crucial part of how a show runs, and without them there would be no circus. Nope, they aren’t the acrobats ...
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Site and Circus with Ilmatila of Finland

Quiet sophistication and an intelligent sense of play define the work of contemporary circus artist Ilona Jäntti, a.k.a. Ilmatila, of Finland. I first ran into her this January at the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, performing Muualla/Elsewhere ...
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35th Paris Festival

Cirque Phénix, the permanent chapiteau that houses Cirque de Demain, wallows like an enormous tortoise in a muddy park on the edge of Paris. For four days every year, the circus community descends on this desolate ...
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The Fabric of Their Lives: Circus Artists and Superheroes

Elizabeth Streb of the STREB Company calls her dancers superheroes. Trapeze artists were learning how to fly through the air before Superman was born on Krypton.  Superheroes arguably get more respect than us performers, but ...
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A CN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT VISITS ESAC – A CIRCUS SCHOOL IN BELGIUM

First-year students at l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts du Cirque (ESAC) start their days early. I emerged from Metro Demey, a short subway ride east of the commercial center of Brussels, at 9:30 AM—fully one hour ...
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Interview with an aerial cradle flyer: Cadence Alexia

Cadence flying through the air at 'Absinthe'. Short skirt under pink lights. She takes off her shirt and her partner’s, jumps backwards, then flies and twists from her partner’s hands. All over top a crowd ...
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