While circus is commonly associated with romanticized images of big tops, caravans and family businesses, a high number of today's contemporary performers face a very different reality. Elena Lydia Kreusch sheds light on these changed socio-economic conditions and examines the relationship between artists' mobility experiences and their artistic practice.
Over the past 50 years, circus as we commonly know it has been experiencing important developments—both aesthetic and structural. While traditional circus forms persist today, the early 1970s have seen the emergence of the ‘new circus’, and the mid 1990s have given rise to the ‘contemporary circus’. These developments coincide with an institutionalization of circus training as well as shifts in form and aesthetics: Nowadays, if you want to see a circus show, chances are that you will not find yourself in a big top between animals, popcorn stall and caravans. Contemporary circus forms increasingly invest theatre stages, adapting scenographies and production logics of contemporary theater and dance while merging circus vocabulary with elements of dance, theater, new media or visual arts. This underlying shift in socio-economic conditions raises new challenges in relation to living conditions and lifestyles: For many artists the caravan life has been replaced with plane trips and hotel stays, yet artistic mobility (albeit in a new form) continues to be an integral part of contemporary circus practice. Drawing on interviews with contemporary circus artists, Elena Lydia Kreusch examines how changing mobility regimes affect artists’ relationships to and the understanding of their respective artistic practices.
Elena Lydia Kreusch is a freelance artist and producer. She directs the contemporary circus companies Squarehead Productions and KreativKultur. She studied International Development Studies at the Universities of Vienna and Novi Sad (Master thesis: Circus Nomads: Space – Home – Identity) and Cultural Development and Project Management at the University Lumière Lyon (Master thesis: Screen Circus. Analysis of an intermedial phenomena). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna and a recipient of a DOC fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and ÖAW/IFK_Junior Fellow.
Publikationen (u. a.): „Contemporary Circus Mobilities“, in: Simon Fraser University (Hg.), Performance Matters 4.1–2 (2018): Circus and It’s Others, S. 93–98; „Screen Circus. L’écran, un lieu d’expression artistique pour le cirque“, HorsLesMurs (Hg.), Parcours découvertes, 2016; „Circus Mobilities. Zwischen Alltag und Projektion“, in: Universität Wien (Hg.), PolitiX journal No. 39 / 2016: Mobilität, S. 16–20.