What is Circus? (5:35)

Circus Post is a series of short films made by Crying Out Loud and film-maker Deborah May contextualising the development of contemporary circus over the past 40 years.

  What is Circus? is the first film in the series.

On the border between theatre and dance, between tradition and invention, we find something new – contemporary circus – a borderless, hybrid artform.

The contemporary circus has everything old: flying, falling, grace, risk, sweat, injury, beauty and moments of absolute fear. It has the realness of life meeting death, the seconds when time runs slow, and it still has, often, if not always, the devil’s virtuosity. Most of all, it has the quality of what you least expect.

Evoking the unique characteristics of an artform that combines elements of theatre and dance in the crucible of its own intensive training, this short film opens the Circus Post project by tracing an abstract map for the road ahead. What is contemporary circus? How can an artist speak without words? Where did this artform – experimental, open to collaboration, changing constantly – even come from?