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Arts & Culture

Zirkus ON!

Taking stock of the development in the genre of contemporary circus over the last few years, one can clearly see – things are happening! More and more companies have been founded and stages all over Germany are integrating an increasing number of creations and productions from the independent contemporary circus scene. And yet there is still a long way to go to reach future goals: “Visibility, discourse and networking” are the big, primary goals, explains Alice Greenhill, Managing Director of Zirkus ON in an interview.

Zirkus ON focuses on making contemporary circus visible and to gain deserved recognition for the scene through interdisciplinary perspectives, the use of available resources and artistic and cultural work across genres. This includes working towards opening more theaters to contemporary circus, integrating corresponding productions into their programs and thereby reaching and maintaining a curious and open-minded audience. The supra-regional collaborative work of Zirkus ON is funded by the Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien through the program Verbindungen fördern by the Bundesverbands Freie Darstellende Künste e.V. It facilitates the connection of young projects with professional structures:

“The funding (…) provides further impetus for theyoung art form and recognizes the previous voluntary work by the BUZZ* and other actively involved individuals. It promotes visibility, discourse and networking within the performing arts.” – Alice Greenhill

From initial presentation to final performance – Each year, Zirkus ON supports three creations from Germany selected by a jury. For two years, the chosen productions and their artists are funded, given professional guidance through appropriate mentoring and the expertise of the collaboration partners, and thus also supported in the development of their own works in the long term. This year’s edition of Zirkus ON is realized by a total of ten partner institutions. Through regular and close exchange, the projects areactively and fundamentally fostered. The opportunity to learn new things with and from each other within a protected space, to allow ideas to flourish and to be able to fully immerse themselves in their creations, are important components for the artists.

The Chamäleon Berlin in one of the partners, providing such a space through its in-house rehearsal room The Cave and supports this year’s productions: As the artist duo Lily & Janick prepares their debut “Kaleiding“, which oscillates between light, reflections and new perspectives on dance acrobatics, foot juggler and performer Roxana Küwen Arsalan depicts the value of complicating one’s life to find one’s self with her piece “Omâ”. And finally the Lemon Press Collective seeks outstanding artistic performances with the introduction of their contemporary circus piece “The Trace of the Snail”, a gentle world of flowing, soft and organic movements on the one hand and audible, even loud confrontational voices on the other hand.

With our creative support and participation in the project Zirkus ON, we at Chamäleon are part of a connecting structure, linking actors of the German circus landscape. The productions of the project function as prominent representatives of the broad range of contemporary circus on stage.

A role that holds a lot of meaning and demands high quality, innovation and inimitability. A role that we are very much looking forward to working out together.

However, even if contemporary circus in increasingly finding its spotlight and is gradually gaining more recognition, “there continues to be a lack of residency spaces, co-production opportunities and guest performance funding for productions.”, regrets Alice Greenhill.

Zirkus ON began in 2018 from the conviction that funding is essential to make contemporary circus arts visible. Andree Wenzel and Kolja Huneck set up the initiative program within the framework of BUZZ and – together with all the other actors involved – have made an important contribution. And Alice Greenhill is also “keen to see the Zirkus ON family expand and actors from other genres of the performing arts gradually open up to circus arts in and from Germany.”

* Bundesverband Zeitgenössischer Zirkus e.V.

Text: Alexandra Schwirrat
Photos: Lily Schlinker