Symposium of Circus Thinking - Keynote Speaker
Thinking Circus? Creative Discourse and Analysis
One might be tempted to understand circus mainly as a “body-based performance” (Tait and Lavers 2016: 1) in which physicality, skillfulness and agility are at the center of interest. This might be true of traditional circus, but such an understanding is too simple to understand contemporary circus. What unites contemporary circus performances is the predominance of metadiscursive and intertextual strategies: (1) Even though contemporary circus is now “firmly established as one of the most popular forms of live performances, with shows featured as a major part of many arts festivals” (Lavers et al. 2019:2), it is still subjected to a number of ideologies and presumptions, which are reinforced by media, literature, advertisement and popular culture. Contemporary circus performances often react to this dominant romantic image by creating metadiscourses (i.a. discourses on circus arts). (2) Furthermore, contemporary circus is an increasingly hybrid artform. Because literary texts, dance performances, movies and political discussions are used in their creation, contemporary circus performances are engaged in a continuous dialogue with their contexts. These characteristics of contemporary circus create challenges for researchers, artists and dramaturges: In every performance, the bodily, phenomenological dimension must be taken into account, as well as the cultural context, as both are fundamentally intertwined. Which methods are useful to analyze contemporary circus performances and how can these methods in turn enrich the creation process of a performance? Can analysis provide references for creating an empowering, stimulating, and creative work environment during training and creation? And how can academic and artistic discourses and practices enrich each other?
Dr. Franziska Trapp is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Berlin, Germany, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She is the founder of Zirkus | Wissenschaft, an international meeting place for circus researchers, the intiator of the Young Researchers Network in Circus Studies and organizer of international conferences including Semiotics of the Circus (2015), UpSideDown – Circus and Space (2017), and Semaine du Cirque (2020), and Ecrire l’histoire du Cirque (2021). She was awarded third place as Germany’s Best Junior Research Talent of 2019 (Academics/Die Zeit) and received the DGS Young Researchers Price 2020 (German Association of Semiotics) for her PhD entitled Lektüren des Zeitgenössischen Zirkus (De Gruyter 2020).