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Contemporary Circus
Embracing tradition, evolving expectation
By Stephen Sheldrake

Circus isn’t just about elephants and clowns anymore.

It has evolved into something much more than that, and it continues to evolve every year. As performers develop, so too do the nature of the pieces, the tricks that leave you on the edge of your seat, the subtle meaning behind the movement and the intimate relationships a performer can build with their audiences.

When we hosted our first Summer of Circus festival in Worthing last year, I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had the same misconception that many others do when they think of circus, thinking it was only about the more traditional elements such as the animals and top hats, and I was pleased to experience so much more than I had anticipated.

Contemporary Circus is a beautiful genre, physical theatre meets dance in a most challenging, daring and spectacular form. Every show gives you something different. Just some of the elements you can expect to see throughout include fast-paced juggling, incredible acrobatics, slick silks, high wires, Chinese poles, breath-taking balance acts and so much more. Last year we had a production where everything on stage was flown, and I mean everything, from the entire band to the drum kit soaring above the audience’s heads, who were left sitting it awe with their jaws dropped. It was a real sight to see!

To become a circus performer takes an immeasurable amount of dedication, every time I scroll through Instagram I see performers go through their daily warm up routines, simple practices which never fail to amaze me. It takes years for a performer to specialise in a certain area, and the physical fitness and strength of every performer always inspires me to head to the gym!

Our Summer of Circus became the 3rd largest contemporary circus festival in the UK, and I am so excited for our 2017 festival which runs from 16 June to 27 August, starting with the award-winning production Kin performed by Barely Methodical Troupe – one of the hottest circus companies on the market right now. Five men compete against one another to win the approval of a highly skilled female talent scout, and in return, display a mirage of incredible circus skills to us, the audience.

Whether you’re a seasoned circus expert or you have never seen this amazing art form before, it promises to be an experience like no other and I can’t recommend it enough. Discover the incredible shows we have in our Summer of Circus season right here.