Photo: Tom Hakala

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Circus and street arts companies currently working in the country

According to a survey on education and labour in the circus field in Finland, which was carried out by the Circus Information Centre in 2010, around 250 circus artists and teachers are working in the field. Most of these people are engaged in artistic work or are pedagogues in youth circuses around the country. In addition to these, there are an estimated 100 circus and variety artists who mainly do corporate gigs.

Contemporary circus art began to develop in Finland in the 1990s, and around twenty full-time professional contemporary companies have been established since the turn of the century. The field is also enriched by a number of collectives, performance projects and shows by solo artists.

Internationally, the best-known Finnish circus companies are the country’s oldest, Circo Aereo, together with WHS and Race Horse Company. Other distinctive and influential Finnish contemporary circus companies include Agit-Cirk, Taikateatteri 13, Kallo Collective, Nuua, Ilmatila, Clunker Circus, Zero Gravity Company, Cross Art Collective Piste, and Sirkus Aikamoinen, as well as interesting newcomers Blind Gut Company, and Metsä - The Forest Project.

Circo Aereo

Circo Aereo is well known for its experimental and groundbreaking work. The group was formed by circus artists Maksim Komaro and Jani Nuutinen in 1996, and is currently registered in Finland and France. Circo Aereo’s artistic profile is based on a strong awareness of the traditions of circus and other art forms, in combination with fresh directions and a commitment to free-flowing creativity. In Circo Aereo’s works circus art is combined with other art fields in an open and highly artistic way.

The group has performed in over twenty European countries, as well as in Asia and the Middle East, and has undertaken several tours in the USA. The group participates in numerous domestic and international co-productions. It gives annually around 100–150 performances outside of Finland.

WHS

WHS’s works show circus as a modern, independent and constantly changing form of expression, complemented by other methods such as projected video. WHS’s works have not just been at the cutting edge of contemporary circus, but have also renewed the theatre field and played a vital role in improving the status of Finnish circus. Juggler Ville Walo, conjurer and video artist Kalle Nio, and costume designer and scenographer Anne Jämsä founded the group in 2001. It tours continuously abroad and has performed in around 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Since 2015, WHS works in Teatteri Union, an old cinema theatre in the centre of Helsinki.

Race Horse Company

Race Horse Company is a circus company that was founded in 2008 by three Finnish acrobats – Petri Tuominen, Rauli Kosonen and Kalle Lehto. The company focuses on finding new ways to see, produce and make circus art. They approach their work with intensity, raw movement and stunning acrobatic skills, without forgetting about laughter and simple, pure enthusiasm. Race Horse Company has toured extensively in Europe, Australia, Asia and North America. Their latest big production Super Sunday premiered in 2014.

Kalle Nio

— Artist, WHS

"The biggest challenge is the lack of a market. There are really not that many theatres buying performances outside of their normal repertoire, and the touring possibilities in Finland are very limited. The most important step would be to open the city theatres and develop a touring circuit. That would be beneficial for the art but also bring new audiences to theatres In Finland the theatre houses are for dramatic theatre, the music venues are for music, the dance venues for dance. It is important for the development of all the arts – and for their audiences – to break these boxes. Circus has traditionally been a space where anything can happen and different things mix, so circus can play a key role in opening the eyes of audiences and professionals to the fact that labelling things isn’t really that important. The most interesting things in art always happen in the gaps between the different forms."

Photo: Kalle Nio