2015 Research & Events

List of Activities


Which Social Circus for Which Society? – Friday 9 January, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Studio CirQus(4247, St-Dominique, Montreal)

(Please note corrected address).
David Simard (Cirque du Monde), Jennifer Spiegel (Concordia University), and Zita Nyarady (York University), chair: Louis Patrick Leroux.

Social Circus or Circus for Social Change? What are the various types of social circuses and organizations operating internationally and locally? Do they naturally fall into a single rubric or can we start differentiating them based on their objectives, mandates, and outcomes? Examples from Montreal, Toronto, Ecuador, and elsewhere will be explored by our three panelists.


Circus Training into Circus Practice (3 talks) – Friday, February 13th, 10 am – 2 pm

@ National Circus School of Montreal
A day of talks and discussions chaired by Louis Patrick Leroux (Concordia University) and Patrice Aubertin (National Circus School).
Please RSVP: mvilleneuve@enc.qc.ca
Post-Secondary Circus School Graduates Perspectives of Curriculum (10 a.m.)

Amanda Langlois (McGill University)

Whereas quantitative research is focused on quantifying data and generalizing results, qualitative research is explorative, and centers upon gaining a deeper and more profound understanding of the experiences of participants. In this session, I will present the findings from my own qualitative study, which explores perspectives of the curriculum through the lens of graduates from the National Circus School. By analyzing the data through the use of the constant comparison approach, multiple themes emerged which identified the characteristics of undertaking a career in circus arts as perceived by the participants in my study. I will share selected quotes from the interviews and discuss the perceptions of graduates in connection with educational theories.

Amanda Langlois attended E.N.C and also taught in the circus department at Codarts Arts University in the Netherlands. She just finished her M.A. at McGill University where she received the P. Lantz fellowship for excellence for research in arts and education. She is also an elementary school teacher.

‘Knowing, Doing, Being’ How circus novices become practitioners (10:50 a.m.)

Prof. Ron Beadle (Northumbria University, UK)

To become a circus artist is to undergo a series of inter-connected transformations through which people become ‘circus’ as they acquire the knowledge and skills they need to practice circus arts. The circus thus provides a compelling example of work inscribed on its practitioners’ identities as well as their bodies that might be understood as identity work (Ybema et al 2009); a mode of being (Sandberg and Pinnington 2009) and a practice-based moral character (MacIntyre 2000). But how might we explore the emergence of such self-understanding and its composition? This talk will make some suggestions.

Ron Beadle is Professor of Organization and Business Ethics at Northumbria University, England. He has been widely published in the field of virtue ethics and has lectured in universities internationally. A descendant of the Hungarian Konyot circus family, Ron’s empirical research in the travelling circus has been published in leading academic journals including The Journal of Business Ethics. Ron convenes the Circus Research Network (Britain and Ireland).

– Lunch on premises (pay your own) –

Hybridity and Contemporary Circus Arts: Training for a new hybridity of performance in the circus arts. (1:15 p.m.)

Jon Burtt (Macquarie University, Australia)

A glance at the curriculum vitae of many early career contemporary circus artists shows the increasing wide range of professional circus arts practice. Circus artists graduating from established circus schools such as ÉNC in Canada or NICA in Australia are now being asked to perform not only in a multiplicity of disciplines, but also in contexts which can range from working with physical and visual theatre companies, to mainstream contemporary circus companies, to small experimental collectives. This multi-disciplinary career trajectory is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception and Jon Burtt, who himself works across the fields of dance, physical theatre and circus, argues that current circus arts training needs to adapt from the traditional specialist behavioral approach still predominant in much circus arts training and now move to embrace this new hybridity.

Jon is a performer, choreographer, director, teacher and researcher in the fields of circus arts, dance, and social circus. He co-founded Skadada, a multi-disciplinary circus company that toured throughout Australasia to critical and public acclaim. Jon worked for three years as a Cirque du Monde trained social circus instructor in the Inuit community in Nunavik, Québec, was researcher-in-residence at the National Circus School in Montreal and is currently a lecturer in dance and performance studies in the Department of Media, Music, Communications, and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include the effective development of expertise in physical art forms, interdisciplinary research collaborations, and social intervention through social circus practice.


Magic at McGill this Friday
Adaptations of Nineteenth-Century Magic Effects in Contemporary Québécois Circus and Theatre
Conference-demonstration by Joe Culpepper (McGill) – Friday, March 13th, 2 p.m.

Redpath Museum (historic teaching auditorium),
McGill University
859 Sherbrooke West

Last year’s premier of Etienne Saglio’s circus show Le soir des monstres concluded with a stage illusion first performed in London in the 1860s. This year, Lepage’s avant-garde play Coeur adapts moments from the life and magic of France’s famous nineteenth-century conjuror: Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin. This talk will explore the socio-historical origins of sever magic effects to think about how their cultural, political and artistic functions change through contemporary performances in Montréal.

Joseph Culpepper is a performance scholar, magician, and magic consultant. He recently completed a PhD in comparative literature at the University of Toronto. His dissertation, “Reception and Adaptation: Magic Effects, Mysteries and Con Games,” analyzes how individuals experience magic through various media. Joseph currently teaches magic as practice-based research at the National Circus School in Montréal and is a visiting scholar at McGill’s English department.


Christabelle Sethna (University of Ottawa)
“Animal Celebrity: The Memorialization of Jumbo the Elephant” – Friday, April 10, 2015, 12:00pm

The story of Jumbo, the famous circus elephant, tells the tale of a violence-filled colonial journey that was common to captive nonhuman and human animals alike, particularly in the business of slavery and freakery. This presentation considers Jumbo’s life, death and afterlife as grounded in exploitation and consumption and considers the importance of colonial circuits.

Dr. Christabelle Sethna is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies and the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa. She is a historian who focuses on domestic and global history of sex, contraception and abortion, second wave feminist activism and more recently on representations of animals.


Tracy Zhang (Université de Montréal)
“The Chinese Connection: Transnational Origins of Quebecois Circus Arts” – Friday, April 10, 2015

Why does China have a large number of acrobatic troupes? What factors enabled Chinese acrobats to perform in North American circuses? This presentation will shed some light on these issues by looking at the history of acrobatics in socialist China. Also, I will discuss state and corporate practices that facilitated the incorporation of Chinese acrobatics into the Quebecois circus arts in the late 1980s.

Dr. Tracy Zhang is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center of International Studies at the University of Montreal. She also teaches in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia University. Her research engages with critical media studies and feminist political economy, focusing on media/cultural workers’ experiences of contemporary political-economic transformations.


Working Group at Montréal Complètement Cirque – Tuesday, July 7th, 2015, 1:30pm

at Festival HQ (330 rue Emery, Montréal)

Rings of Memory. What Oral and Material History for Québec Circus?

Tuesday 7 July, Festival HQ, 330 rue Emery, Montreal, 1:30 to 3:30 pm.
Louis Patrick Leroux, Jan Rok Archard, with Rodrigue Tremblay, Nicolette Hazewinkel, and Catherine St-Arnaud
Live performance in Québec, and circus in particular, has been produced with a sense of urgency, constantly moving forward with little concern to document its decades of experiences, anecdotes, and archival documents. How does one constitute the living archive of an ephemeral field? How to « make » québec circus history  in a coherent, dynamic and compelling way for both its practitioners and its scholars?

More importantly, we’ll be exploring how an oral and material history can become community-driven, fuelled and supported by that community for its own posterity. What criteria does one follow to historicize events, the sort them, and attribute importance? How to make the research democratic while avoiding egotistic asides? What tools are in place to construct such a history?

Excerpts from a first series of interviews with Rodrigue Tremblay and Nicolette Hazewinkel will be presented, with the artists present, and interwoven with many of the questions asked above. We will articulate a call to action from the circus milieu, based on its desire to remember and to learn from the recent and farther removed past.