4

Circus and street arts companies currently working in the country

There are 229 companies and solo artists. That is the estimate if we’re talking about street arts and circus artists that are living and working in Belgium. The 2015 Yearbook of Flemish Circus Companies indicates that there are 96 active circus companies in Flanders and the 2011 edition of Le Nomade tells us that there are 71 companies who reside in the Walloon provinces and about 62 in Brussels. Generally the split between street arts and circus artists is even, but we do see that in the Walloon regions there is a slightly bigger focus on street art and over the last couple of years there has been a general shift towards circus in the whole of the country. In Flanders there are six traditional travelling circuses left that play at their own risk, and six travelling circuses that are booked by organisations such as festivals and cultural centres. Besides these nomadic artists more and more companies play in the open air or ‘in the box’ depending on who books them.

Examples

Circus Ronaldo

Circus Ronaldo is Flanders’ best known travelling circus and was founded in 1971. The current generation of this family of artists transformed the spectacles into a theatrical form of circus where commedia dell’arte is mixed with high-level circus disciplines.

Collectif Malunés

Collectif Malunés is a nice example of a young group of artists who are willing to take the risk of starting up a new travelling circus. Four young artists, three Flemish men and one French woman, graduated from the AcaPA circus school in 2009. After premiering with the successful show Sens Dessus Dessous in 2010, they gathered family, friends and sponsors to buy their very own tent with crowdfunding resources. This tent will be used for their next show, which will be ready for early showings in 2016 and will include five more promising young artists.

Claudio Stellato

Claudio Stellato was born in Milan but has been working and living in Brussels for some years. After a schooling in music he worked for a street theatre company and decided to study circus in Toulouse. His work has a lot of multidisciplinary characteristics and floats between dance, installation, performance and circus. In his first two shows he explores the relation between body and object by presenting familiar aspects of human nature.

Studio Orka

In 2004, Studio Orka started out as a group of installation- and stage-builders who wanted to make shows for children and grownups that still cherish their childish side. They make outdoor, indoor and site-specific theatre shows where they use small words to talk about big issues, and they always do it in their own unique way.

Sara Dandois

— Artist, Rooftoptigers —

What do you see as your most important task in circus/street arts in your country?
"We are situated at the intersection of visual arts and performance and are investigating this domain in public space. By the combination of what is recognisable in the ‘acting’ on the one hand, with experimental, new forms of installation on the other hand, we draw the audience into our world, a world that questions their assumptions and makes them think intuitively about certain themes. We never present a story; instead we offer an experience in which the audience is often important in forming their own meaning. They are part of the whole. They are the antagonists. They often influence the course of the performance. We see it as our task to intermingle live performance and visual art, to bridge audiences, to offer them startling experiences, and to accompany them in the rich world of our art. We want to contribute through art and culture to a better and more beautiful world."