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Writing (about/on/with/at/the) Contemporary Circus

A Seminar on Research-Creation, Creative practices and Meaning-Making

July 2–12, 2019

Where, who?

Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science is proposing a third contemporary circus-themed International Graduate Summer School taught by Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux. This seminar will be held in collaboration with Montréal Complètement Cirque's International Market of Contemporary Circus.


This interdisciplinary seminar will provide an opportunity to learn, explore and refine research methods in the performing arts with a focus on contemporary circus and physical theatre. We will have discussions of form and discipline, method, hybridity, writing the body, writing from place, strategies and choices and working with or as performers, and developing the tools to discuss the creative process. The seminar will be constructed on the principle of experiential learning and selfreflexivity concerning the creative process. The seminar will run all day, every weekday. Evenings, students will be encouraged to attend performances of Montréal Complètement cirque in order to discuss the work with the group the next day.



This is a graduate seminar that has also been opened to professional performing arts practitioners wishing to explore the junction of academic and artistic pursuits. Participants have a fascinating variety of experiences, both artistic and intellectual, for the most part they have experience in circus, theatre, music, video art or dance. Given the diversity of experiences and academic background, we’ll encourage an environment of debate and discussion but also of respect. Students will be expected to attend all morning and afternoon lectures and many of the evening performances as well as to contribute to their blog and experiential research project.

Guest Teachers

To be confirmed - Other guest instructors and artistic coaches will be confirmed this spring.

Click the "Academic Team" button below for more information!

Course Objectives

  • to offer a space for sustained discussion on research-­creation, practice-as-research and experiential modes of research into the performing arts;
  • to explore together successful and more challenging examples of such research design, implementation and dissemination;
  • to share experiences, expertise and insights into a variety of international and interdisciplinary practices;
  • to encourage research-­action and to create an environment that fosters embedded research and creation;
  • to offer an opportunity to articulate a research-creation project or, for students already engaged in a project, to further develop or probe into the complexities of an existing project;
  • to create an environment of intellectual and artistic exchange and possibilities that will run alongside a major festival and hopefully contribute further projects and exchanges.

Assignments and Grading

Blog and/or Podcast

You will be expected to write at least 2 blog/reflection entries between the 3rd and the 15th, but are not limited to any number. These blogs/reflections will appear on our class site and will be accessible to the seminar participants. Some (but not all) 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. 20% of final grade.

Some examples of what came out of last years' Summer School:


On the last two days of classes, students will give a 15-minute presentation on a researchcreation question they have been working with. 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 presentation. Presentations can be done in groups. 30% of final grade.

Final paper

You will submit a final paper of no more than 10 pages (double spaced) by Friday July 27th, 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. 35% of final grade.

Participation, attendance and observation reports

An active participation is one based on presence and respectful relationship to others in the seminar. People will be presenting works-in-progress, ideas-in-progress, 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. 15% of final grade.

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.


Exploration and apparatuses

Some of you will want to use the apparatuses, explore the various creative spaces and opportunities. Please respect the technical director, project manager and coach’s instructions as to which apparatuses are accessible, which are off limit at any given time. There will be many of us in too few spaces. I 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 or research-creation theory in circus arts. 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 and some previous experience with them. There will also be more intimate spaces for exploration, floor mats, projectors upon request and depending on available equipment and space.


We will also spend quite a bit of time at Cité des arts du cirque (roughly 45 minutes by public transit away from Concordia). This is where we find TOHU, National Circus School and Cirque du Soleil in the St-Michel neighborhood 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).

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.


Transportation to and from Montreal is your responsibility (click on the Logistics button below for more information). In Montreal, we will be using the transit system (metro, bus) to get to the various venues. An Opus card effective 2 to 12 July will be provided to those of you who do not already live in Montreal.


These are your responsibility. 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 were we are up 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.

Festival Performances

While we realize that some of your can’t, for various reasons, 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, week night 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.

Typical Schedule

10 am to noon: Seminars. Over the two weeks, topics will include:

  • Form and discipline (what forms will we explore? How to define them?)
  • Method (research-­‐creation, action-­‐research, resonant response)
  • Hybridity, Body/Text, textures and textualities
  • Location and Locatedness (creating from place & placing creation in its context)
  • Strategies and Choices (aesthetic, formal, discursive, practical)
  • Working with or as Performers (sessions with directors, coaches and professional circus artists)
  • Developing the tools to discuss process

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)

2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Studio work (weeks 1 and a few days week 2) and talks, panel discussions and events at Montréal Complètement Cirque’s MICC/International Marketplace for Circus

4 p.m. 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.

Application Process

Potential participants must apply by March 15th by submitting a CV and a letter explaining their interest in the seminar, past experiences, how this seminar could be of importance to their academic or creative life, and whether they seek financial aid to attend.

Click on the APPLY! button below to proceed.


5 students will be awarded fellowships covering the full tuition.

The course is taught by Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux, a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada.

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