CIRQUEON – Centre for Contemporary Circus, Prague, Czech Republic
Bio: Veronika Štefanová holds a PhD from the department of theatre studies at Charles University in Prague, exploring contemporary circus as a dramatic art. She occasionally teaches at Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and is in charge of the library, documentation, and research at CIRQUEON, the umbrella organization for the support and development of contemporary circus in the Czech Republic.
Title: The Otherness of Czech Contemporary Circus
Abstract: Czech contemporary circus is in many ways a unique phenomenon. Having been born of the will of theatre directors, it is frequently perceived as non-verbal or experimental theater within the Czech cultural environment itself. Theater actors and dancers, though nowadays more often than not in association with gymnasts and international artists, still influence and determine its aesthetic qualities. As an art form, Czech contemporary circus is very young: its lifespan is still best measured in years rather than in decades. However, this in no way detracts from its value. While contemporary circus may be considered a minor art form in the Czech Republic in terms of the number of ensembles and individual artists, it has achieved great popularity in terms of spectator interest. This is evidenced by the number of performances annually staged in the Czech Republic as well as by the growing number of cultural events featuring Czech contemporary circus. Nevertheless, defining the Czech contemporary circus professional, i.e. a professional contemporary circus artist, remains problematic. There is currently no professional circus school in the Czech Republic capable of producing certified professionals in the field of circus arts. The aim of the round table is to present the specifics of Czech contemporary circus, which has established itself over the course of the past ten years as a professional art form thanks to the efforts of non-profit organizations and independent theater artists. How does a professional contemporary circus form emerge in a country with no professional circus school? What role does the theater background play in the creative practices of Czech artists and how does it reflect spectator expectations? Furthermore, how do these artists perceive their position within the context of Czech performative arts, what are their working conditions and how are they reflected in their work? These and other questions will be explored by Czech artists and experts: Eliška Brtnická (Cirkus Mlejn), Adam Jarchovský (Bratři v tricku), Petr Horníček (Losers Cirque Comany) Rostislav Novák (Cirk La Putyka), Barbora Adolfová (Cirkonet) and Alžběta Tichá (Feel the Universe Circus Company).