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SYMPOSIUM - KEYNOTE by SHANNON MCKENNA

  • 24 Oct 2021
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
  • zoom

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Symposium of Circus Thinking - Keynote Speaker

Shannon McKenna

Speaks on:

It's Not Our Fault: Normalizing and Overcoming the Struggles of the Modern Circus Artist

Do you think life as a circus artist is hard? Do you ever find yourself utterly alone with your desire for circus greatness? Do you feel a perpetual amount of despair about the oppressive capitalist system under which you must create art? Or maybe, you just feel broke.

Yeah, me too.

And while there's a lot to be said for a positive mindset and a go-getter attitude, this talk isn't about all that. It's about examining the systems and structures that make following our heart's desire to create with our bodies so damn difficult. And as we explore, unpack, and demystify the plight of the modern circus artist, we will also face some hard inevitabilities and actionable solutions for this challenging time. Please come prepared with a pen and paper, as writing exercises will be suggested.


Shannon McKenna, aerialist and entrepreneur, was never a dancer, never a gymnast, but one hell of a tree climber. She earned her B.F.A. from NYU with a concentration in physical theatre and decided the summer after college, without much idea of what it meant, to become a circus artist. She packed up her life in a suitcase and traveled the globe in search of the best coaches to teach her, teaching aerial arts to whoever wanted to learn, and put her work on any stage she could. Career highlights being a magician’s assistant in Portugal, flying high over snowboarder Shaun White at the LAAX open in Switzerland, a post-food poisoning silks act in a German cabaret, and trapezing 50 feet in the air underneath a motorcycle on a tight wire. In 2018, Shannon launched The Artist Athlete, an online resource that produces educational material for aerialists. Through online workshops, e-books, and other virtual events, The Artist Athlete bridges the gap between the professional and recreational worlds of circus arts. It is home to the critically acclaimed The Artist Athlete Podcast, a weekly podcast with over 250,000 downloads worldwide and is currently expanding to platform professionals from all over the globe. 




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