This interdisciplinary seminar provides an opportunity to learn, explore and refine research and design methods in the performing arts with a focus on contemporary circus and physical theatre. In addition to discussions of form and discipline, DIY culture, artistic hybridity and creative process, the seminar’s focus will very much be on the performance apparatus.
The main principle on which the seminar is constructed is experiential learning and self-reflexivity concerning the creative process.
This year’s theme is Circus & Invention (apparatus, performance vocabulary, meaning) with a day also focused on Circus and Sustainability and Durability.
Following three successful intensive summer seminars coinciding with Montréal Complètement Cirque, professor Louis Patrick Leroux and his team are pleased to reprise the intensive intellectual and artistic “boot camp” experience for its fourth installation.
The 2019 seminar attracted 25 students from 12 countries: one third were performers, one third graduate students, one third teachers/coaches/professors and most of them were an interesting cross-section of all of those categories.
This is a graduate seminar that is also open to professional performing arts practitioners wishing to explore the junction of academic and artistic pursuits.
Successful candidates will possess a fascinating variety of experiences, both artistic and intellectual, and for the most part have experience in circus, theatre, music, video art or dance.
Given the diversity of experiences and academic backgrounds, we encourage an environment of respectful debate and discussion. Students are expected to attend all morning and afternoon lectures and many of the evening performances. They are also expected to contribute to their blog and experiential research project.
This seminar is for thinker-doers, for artists and scholars who are open to experiential learning and interested in process.
Up to four international students could be awarded fellowships covering the full tuition.
You will be expected to write at least two blog entries between June 26th and July 13th but are not limited to any number. These blogs will appear on our class site and will be accessible to the seminar participants. Some (but not all) blogs could be selected for online publication.
We will also have access to equipment to record and broadcast podcasts. These could be part of the final artistic or academic presentation or even replace the blogs for students who prefer talking to writing.
Presentations - 30% of final grade
On the last two days of classes, students who have worked in teams led by four to five creative leaders (designers, directors, engineers, acrobatic vocabulary specialists) will give a presentation on the apparatus or wider research-creation question they have been developing. This presentation can be a performance, a performative talk or a formal academic talk. Time has been set aside every afternoon to work on the project.
Final paper - 35% of final grade
You will submit a final paper of no more than 10 pages (double spaced) by Friday July 31st, 11:59 p.m. This paper will address a specific issue, theme or production linked to the seminar and draw into its argument appropriate theory and references. The paper can draw upon the in-class presentations, refer to them or be conceived as written extension of the oral performative presentation. Paper topics will be discussed with the professor during the seminar.
Participation, attendance and observation reports - 15% of final grade
An active participation is one based on presence and respectful relationship to others in the seminar. People will be presenting works-in-progress and ideas-in-progress so we want our space to be a safe one for sharing. Participation is considered for morning seminars at Concordia as it does for talks and conferences that will be part of Montréal Complètement Cirque, the MICC and active observation with the dramaturgy research team.
This is a very intense and all-consuming seminar. Prepare to be working, exchanging, creating, attending shows and discussion with fellow students from all over the world for a good 12 hours a day.
We will be exploring, building and transforming apparatuses as well as exploring various creative spaces and opportunities. Please respect the technical director, project manager and coach’s instructions as to which apparatuses are accessible and which are off limits at any given time.
There will be many of us in too few spaces. We have built in quite a bit of time to work on your final presentations, but these are not strictly speaking artistic acts or presentations, but rather embodied (or not) explorations into research-creation questions. This is not a studio course. It’s an intellectually-driven graduate seminar where the professor felt it would also be important to give ourselves some space to move, create and try things out. Anyone wanting to use circus apparatuses will have to have the proper insurance (we can discuss this in person). There will also be more intimate spaces for exploration, floor mats, and projectors upon request and depending on available equipment and space.
With international artists to be confirmed this Spring. In the past, we have invited artists performing at Montréal Complètement Cirque or who are in Montreal for the festival to spend part of a day with our students.
We will also utilize the Milieux Black Box in the EV Building at Concordia. This will be a creative, exploratory space.
We will also spend quite a bit of time at Cité des arts du cirque (roughly 45 minutes by public transit from Concordia). This is where we find TOHU, National Circus School and Cirque du Soleil in the St-Michel neighbourhood of Montreal.
We will also spend some time at the Montréal Complètement Cirque headquarters and at events along St. Denis Street, off de Maisonneuve Est (Berri-UQAM metro station).
The evening shows will bring us to many venues across Montreal. When possible, we’ll go to them as a group, but some autonomy is expected.
The schedule is full days, Monday through Friday. In the evenings, students are encouraged to attend performances of Montréal Complètement Cirque in order to discuss the work with the group the next day.
The first week, mornings will be devoted to theory and discussion. The second week will involve panel discussions with international participants at the circus festival as well as master classes with visiting artists.
For afternoon experiential projects during both weeks, students will select teams with which they want to explore the apparatus through: 1) invention and building, 2) reinvention or repurposing, 3) transformation or dematerialization, or, for the intellectually inclined, 4) theorizing and rethinking the apparatus.
A typical day is comprised of:
10 a.m. to noon: Seminars and guest talks
Lunch break and free time to work on performance pieces, talks or podcasts (with access to a studio for physical work and a small podcast studio)
1:30 to 4 p.m. Embodied exploratory work (on apparatuses) and talks, panel discussions and events at Montréal Complètement Cirque’s MICC/International Market of Contemporary Circus
4 to 5 p.m. Daily debrief and retroaction
Dinner 5-8 p.m
8 to 10 p.m. Attending shows at Montréal Complètement Cirque or other pertinent shows in Montreal.
These are the responsibility of the participant. You are free to bring your own lunch (you will always have access to a fridge and microwave both at Concordia and National Circus School) or to join impromptu groups for meals at nearby restaurants. On days when we are at Cité des arts du cirque, we’ll need to arrange for meals (at least confirm numbers) ahead of time. In any case, please look ahead to plan appropriate meals as we will sometimes be in transit.
While we realize that some participants cannot attend all of the shows, we do encourage you to see as many as you can as they are the equivalent of readings and will be discussed in the seminar. Most, but not all, weeknight performances are considered part of the seminar.
We will buy your PRO pass that allows you access to MICC (circus marketplace and festival events) and its workshops, works-in-progress presentations and much more.
Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux
Professor in the Department of English and Départment d'études françaises, Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Arts and Science and Associate Researcher at the National Circus School of Montreal.
Caite Clark, Stage and Production Manager
Website and online support
Alison Bowie, PhD Candidate, Humanities, Concordia University
Creative Team Leaders and Interlocutors
Félix Marzel, industrial designer and artist (DIX2)
Joseph Culpepper, scholar and magic specialist (post-doctoral Fellow at Concordia and Cirque du Soleil)
Marion Cossin, engineer specializing in circus apparatuses (National Circus School-CRITAC)
Fred Gérard, researcher and apparatus designer (National Circus School-CRITAC)
Alisan Funk, Assistant Professor of Circus, DOCH, Stockholm University of the Arts
Kari Zacharias, Assistant Professor, Concordia Centre for Engineering in Society
Ann-Louise Davidson, Associate Professor, Education; Concordia University Research Chair, Maker Culture
Patrice Aubertin, director of the CRITAC at National Circus School, holder of the Canada Industrial Research Chair in Circus Arts