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Concordia pulls back the curtain on the creative process of contemporary circus

July 2-12: Catch a glimpse of a graduate summer seminar and public presentations at 4TH SPACE
June 19, 2019
By Taylor Tower


Home to Cirque du Soleil, the National Circus School, TOHU and more, Montreal is at the heart of Quebec’s billion-dollar contemporary circus industry.

And for the first two weeks of July, industry members, artists and fans will converge on the city for the annual Montréal complètement cirque festival.

Amid this flurry of excitement, Concordia’s Louis Patrick Leroux is teaching his third international graduate summer seminar on circus research. It brings together 25 students and professional artists from nearly a dozen countries to think, write and perform their way through circus and its multiple meanings.

The public is invited to join the conversation at the university’s 4TH SPACE from July 2 to 12.

A recognized leader in circus scholarship, Leroux is a professor in the Department of English and Département d’études françaises and associate dean of Research in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“Concordia is uniquely positioned to host this kind of intellectual and creative exchange,” he says.

“With the seminar taking place in 4TH SPACE, the work we do is not hidden behind the academy walls but instead showcased to passersby who are invited to engage with us and our work.”

Visitors to 4TH SPACE will have a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process by interacting with scholars and circus practitioners on the importance and relevance of this type of research.

“There are no seminars like this in North America,” says Alisan Funk, who was a student in the seminar’s first year and is now part of Leroux’s seminar team.

“It prioritizes the opportunity for practical research with circus arts, something only available in very few degree-granting programs around the world.”

In addition to drop-in observation of the seminar participants and their work, the public is invited to a selection of presentations on a variety of subjects related to circus at 4TH SPACE, 1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., corner of Mackay St.

For the public events listed below, admission is free but registration is required.


Les Saltimbanques du social

Performance + Discussion | Thursday, July 4, 1-2 p.m.

Featuring Jacinthe Rivard, professor at Université de Montréal and youth participants from the créations collectives de groupe program of Cirque hors piste, this presentation and discussion explores the role of circus as a medium for social change. Cirque hors piste is the first non-profit organization in Canada for social circus. It offers marginalized and vulnerable youth an alternative and inclusive space to find meaning and purpose through circus arts.

Presentation in French with English interpretation. Registration required

Juggling pioneer Sean Gandini on his creative process

Talk | Friday, July 5, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

In this talk, renowned juggler Sean Gandini will discuss his creative process, his company and his approach.

Co-founder of Gandini Juggling, Gandini is one of the pioneers of contemporary juggling. Working as a performer, choreographer and director, he has pushed the boundaries of juggling as a discipline and as an art form for over 25 years.

Registration required

Yaron Lifschitz on Ensemble Work in the Performing Arts

Talk | Monday, July 8, 1-2:30 p.m.

CEO and artistic director of contemporary circus company Circa, Yaron Lifschitz will discuss ensemble work in the performing arts.

Over the course of his career, Lifschitz has directed more than 60 productions including large-scale events, opera, theatre, physical theatre and circus.

Registration required

Cirque du Soleil’s Boris Verkhovsky and Joe Culpepper

Talk | Wednesday, July 10, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Boris Verkhovsky, director of Design and Performance Development at Cirque du Soleil, and Joe Culpepper, MITACS Elevate postdoctoral fellow at Concordia and Cirque du Soleil, will discuss Material Creativity, from conception to its realization.

Registration is required.

Seminar events are held in collaboration with Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, 4TH SPACE and Acts of Listening Lab; Montréal Complètement Cirque’s International Market of Contemporary Circus, En piste, Cirque hors piste, National Circus School and Cirque du Soleil.


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