Circus artist doing a handstand

My First Circus Speech

I just gave a speech at the National Theatre in Taipei, Taiwan about the creation process for the Angels of the Storm with The Rocker back in Montreal:

At our first rehearsal, The Rocker told us that he wanted to create a different circus show; one with a political message. 

For us as circus artists, creating a show to address a problem in the world, even abstractly, was new. 

Our training at the National Circus School involves three years of training in acrobatics, acting, dancing, movement, and creation. 

Ideally, at the end of the school, we are closer to being able to express anything we want to say though circus. 

And after three years, here is The Rocker, asking us what exactly it is that we want to say. 

Not all of us knew. 

We had several weeks to create the show.

The structure of the show was determined early on. 

Every artist was responsible for two or more scenes, and spent most of the day working independently or in small groups on creating and perfecting those scenes.

The Rocker would often give an inspiration for each scene: a book, an emotion, an image.

It was not uncommon to work all day on a piece only to present it later to The Rocker or to the whole group only to find out that you have been going in the wrong direction.

But that was not a bad thing – it might have gives someone else a new idea for a scene which is used elsewhere in the show.

A couple of weeks before opening, your number might move to another place in the show; or the music might change, or suddenly, a part of the show no longer works and is cut.

This created a lot of stress, but it also forced us as artists to always be present and passionate.

It made us feel that we had really created this show. A month and a half before, the show existed only as a vague idea in The Rocker’s mind, and that original idea had changed form innumerable times.

But in the end, we presented a show that was, for us at least, a new type of circus show.

We had been challenged to look out at the real world, to react to it, and to somehow put those reactions in the context of a show that hopefully, an audience would enjoy.

It gave us one more opportunity to place the emphasis not on the technical skill, but on what feeling and meaning can be expressed by that technique.

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