“How did circus get so awesome?
…and what else can it do??”
These are the questions of a circademic, and if you’ve ever pondered them, you’ve taken your first steps into a fun and often overlooked corner of circus life. Welcome to Circademia. 🌈🥳
Despite images of super strong athletes and feats of physical prowess, circus is also fundamentally nerdy.
Have you seen a juggler map out a new toss pattern for others to learn? or an aerialist watch dozens of rehearsal videos to get a hand wrap just right? Every discipline has its debates, theories, histories, traditions, teaching methods, possible social impacts, and technical skills, not to mention the politics and changing perspectives of circus as a whole.
All of these combined comprise circademia, and the people who are fascinated by it are called circademics. Some might call it an academic pursuit, others might call it an addiction.
Watch out, you will want to proceed with some caution.
Once the door is opened, you’ll find circademia is still a Wild West–
any and every topic is fair game, and there aren’t
many regulatory bodies to check writers’ accuracy.
In the past decade or two, pioneers have gained traction by uniting their love of circus with established careers in various non-circus disciplines, which has brought much needed validity to the studies of health, injury prevention, body movement, therapeutic uses of circus, teaching methods, social and emotional uses, youth development, and social impact. In the spotlight these days we find circus history and culture, especially in regards to gender, race and political power, which is very exciting. Who knows what we’ll tackle next?
These researchers are integral to our everyday experience of circus, helping shape and guide how we perceive, how we perform and how we prepare for the future.
Why did we bring this topic up today? Because you may have already read some of our previous articles written by our in-house circademic, such as 1918: Circus & the Flu, and soon we’ll be launching an exciting series for circus book reviews. You’ll start to get curious sooner or later, and you’ll start to wonder, how do I find out more? And we’re already here for you. You can come back here anytime and fall into the rabbit hole of circus science and history and lore.
To get you started, here’s some really useful stuff:
ACE (American Circus Educators) Resources
Info and links to research projects that ACE has been involved with, including self-determination through circus arts and the Weikart Center’s research showing positive impact of circus programs on youth at-risk.
ACE Social Circus Toolkit
Provides access to resources that can help strengthen social circus programs, including an evaluation toolbox, research on social circus, help with raising money, and the Case for Social Circus.
Circademics on Facebook
Come chill with the gang and see what’s hot.
Circus Arts Research Platform
A very cool and extensive free, collaborative project between circus arts resource centers, circus networks and researchers around the world. Find a directory of scholars, map of resources, info on conferences, and citations of academic papers.
Cirque du Soleil’s Social Circus Map
Turns out, people like us are all over the world.
Supports the development and evolution of training, education and creation in the field of circus arts in Europe.
Les Arts du Cirque
Encyclopedia of circus things, people and places. Might be only available in French.
Social Circus Research Index
A couple years ago, I wrote a master’s thesis on developing evaluation tools and how social circus can help prevent urban youths from adopting lives of violence. To do so, I gathered this list of research papers, which is now woefully incomplete, but still not a bad starting place.
Use Google Scholar
One of the best free tools to check out random, actually published circus research.