Water on Mars // Photo: Einar Kling Odencrants

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Circus and street arts companies currently working in the country

Defnitions are not easy when it comes to the world of circus and street arts, which makes counting rather difficult. Moreover, most artists are not definable in one category, but mix circus disciplines with clowning, magic and theatre, and work in tents as well as on the street, in theatre venues, and in art galleries. The numbers below are to be taken as an estimation. Street artists, clowns and magicians that define their work in a circus context are also included in these figures.

According to Manegen’s statistics, there are more than 300 professionally working individual artists in this field in Sweden, plus about 50 Swedish artists having long-term contracts with international companies and staying mainly in Canada, Spain, Belgium or France. There are around 60 artistic companies; roughly 60% define themselves as circus companies, and the rest speak of their work in terms of clowning, magic and/or variety – or a mix of all.

Usually artists work in different companies, and in several companies simultaneously. New companies appear and disappear. The field is in constant flux. More or less everyone in the field knows each other in Sweden, and most of the 350 Swedish artists work and tour abroad frequently. About 10% of them moved to Sweden for education or work, and then stayed there, or still consider Sweden to be their base. Non-Swedish artists that were educated in Sweden or stayed for a period of work, but then left the country altogether, are not included in these numbers.

Examples

Cirkus Cirkör

Cirkus Cirkör was founded in 1995 with the vision of establishing the circus art form in Sweden. Since 2005 they have had regional institution status. Today, Cirkör tours the world and has created its own platform for research and development, Cirkör Lab. Cirkus Cirkör runs a high school circus program and reaches around 30,000 people per year with its circus pedagogical programmes and community work. Current touring shows are Limits, Knitting Peace and Underart.

Svalbard Company

Four young circus artists attended DOCH at Stockholm University of Arts, found each other, and decided to create a company together. They yearn to create truly multidisciplinary work, beyond classifications. Svalbard's first and current touring performance is All Genius All Idiot.

Water On Mars

Water on Mars is made up of the three jugglers Tony Pezzo, Wes Peden and Patrik Elmnert, who met while studying in DOCH at Stockholm University of the Arts. They are all champions in their field, all having juggled since childhood and toured the world with their art.

Burnt Out Punks

Burnt Out Punks is a group of circus artists that run a fire-driven punk circus which has toured internationally since 2005, performing for about half a million people in fifteen countries. Fire, comedy and spectacular effects are important features of their aesthetics, and many of their performances are created for big outdoor festival contexts. Their current touring shows are The Stockholm Syndrome and Asphalt Apocalypse, and they're working on a production called Smoke Screens.

Kompani Giraff

Kompani Giraff is the offspring of the successful variety show Salong Giraff, which performed in different venues for seven years in Stockholm. Today Kompani Giraff is an artistic company producing circus and variety performances that tour in the Stockholm region, Sweden and the Nordic countries. Current productions are Tvärslöjd, a magic and acrobatics show for children, and 2% Impact, a circus investigation of the question of human free will.

Wille Christiani

— Artist and Director Circus Arts, Burnt Out Punks —

What do you see as your most important task in circus/street arts in your country?
"I believe that my most important task in circus and street art in Sweden is to create art that treats the audience as the most important part of a creation. The role of the artist in society is of great importance. This role includes introspection but must not end up alienating the audience. My many years in the world of contemporary circus and outdoor performance in Sweden have given me knowledge of the many diffculties involved in being an artist. I need to keep creating art and share that knowledge with the next generation."

Photo: Burnt Out Punks