Journeys Through Queer Circus – Queer Training, Queer Art

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CircusTalk is pleased to present Journeys Through Queer Circus with Charles Batson, a series focusing on the culture and concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community in the circus community. This series is dedicated to creating space for queer voices to be heard and for queer art to flourish. Join us for a four-episode deep dive into queer circus as part of our ongoing commitment to improving equity and inclusion in the arts, hosted by Dr. Charles Batson. In this episode, Batson presents and highlights a vital element in the making of queer circus art: training and pedagogy. He interviews four trainers/educators from different parts of the globe, and they reveal their experiences, strategies and recommendations for making circus even more queer in our present and future.

Recognized for his writing and directing, Dr. Charles Batson is a circus researcher and professor of French and Francophone studies and former president of the American Council for Quebec Studies and also professor of history and culture Florence B. Sherwood at Union College where he also co-chaired the LGBTQ+ Affairs Committee. In the circus world, Charles Batson is best known for his writings (Cirque Global, Quebec’s Expanding Circus Boundaries) and of course for having co-directed the academic seminar Circus & its Others.

In this episode, theree will no doubt be delighted by this ride through a universe of queer training with these four voices, as they generously share images of their art and work and challenge us all to examine the structures around us and to fight for even more visibility not only for queer art but for the queer artists who make it. They all say, amazingly, through stories of varying vocabularies and experiences, that our circus worlds – and our audiences – are ready now for even more homosexuality, and that education and training are vital and dynamic aspects to make all this possible.

Ania Upstill (they they)

Clown, theater maker and teacher-New Zealand

Ania is a queer and non-binary performer, director, theater maker, teacher and clown. A graduate of the International School of Physical Theater Dell’Arte (Professional Training Program), Ania’s recent work celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists with a focus on gender diversity. In 2021, they worked in New York and New Zealand, co-creating Queer ballet Sapphic Lake (BATS); Into the Bush, a queer circus-theatre project (TAPAC); and Proud Voices, an audio festival that played internationally in three major cities. Their one-man clown show, Transhumance, was awarded Best Circus and Physical Theater Weekly at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2020.

Adam Woolley (he she)

Circus educator, lawyer and trainer-USA

Adam has been teaching circus for fifteen years. After stepping down as Director of Programs for PSCA and Director of Creative Outreach for Circadium in 2021, he is happy to continue offering private lessons and small classes as an adjunct teacher. He served as chair of the American Circus Educators Association’s Safety Committee, coached professionals nationwide, and co-produced five international circus showcases as Managing Director of Circus Now while in New York City, working with SummerStage. NYC and NYU Skirball. Theater. He has worked tirelessly as an advocate for the circus arts, presenting and helping organize events for the Smithsonian Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP).

Jean Paul Zaccarini (he she)

Teacher, performer and activist-Sweden

John-Paul is a professor of performing arts at the Research Center of Stockholm University of the Arts. A practitioner of theatre, dance, mime and circus with an emphasis on poetry and speech, he has been both performer/author and director/playwright/choreographer since 1992. He is currently researching the intersections between art, therapy and activism in its FutureBrownSpace project which is a creative space for BIPOC to work with Radical Healing and decolonize artistic research in predominantly white institutions and fields.

Zed Cezard (they/he/they)

Performer, scholar and coach-Canada

Zed, a circus artist with a doctorate in art sciences, is a coach, speaker and author. On the one hand, they have followed a scientific and academic path around questions of arts, culture, identity, gender and transfeminism which has given rise to numerous publications on the clown. On the other hand, they have pursued a self-taught artistic journey that allows him to work all over the world. In 2020, they participated in the 41st Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain where they won the two prestigious prizes: “Special Jury Prize” and “Coup de coeur du festival” with their flying pole act.

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