Re-exploring grotesque bodies


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project description

Progressive contemporary circus in Germany is well on its way to cultivating ties to the international scene where it has already established itself as an independent artistic area of the performing arts. Thanks to new partnerships with contemporary dance, contemporary circus has been able to part with its traditional image of being pure entertainment. What contemporary dance and contemporary circus have in common is their focus on the body and movement as a means of expression. The CircusDanceFestival, founded four years ago, aims to present current aesthetics and international developments in the field of contemporary circus and generate a greater visibility for contemporary circus in Germany.

The five-day edition of the 2023 festival, directed by the choreographer and circus artist Tim Behren, focuses broadly on the notion of the “grotesque body” featuring bewildering, exaggerated and clownlike artistic forms and presentations of the body. The festival opens with works by the Spanish circus artist and philosopher Elena Zanzu and the Flemish choreographer and circus performer Alexander Vantournhout. Another artistic highlight of the festival is the Lithuanian clown and dancer Marija Baraunauskaité. Throughout the festival, the film installation "Mr. Skeleton" by the winner of the Swiss Grand Prix Performing Arts Martin Zimmermann, who will be on site for a film evening supported by ARTE, will be accessible. The latest production by British performer Laura Murphy will be accompanied as part of the international co-production programme.

The festival organisers are also planning addition projects devoted to pursuing a long-term structural expansion of the fields of circus and dance. These include multiple work meetings (“Labs”) in a university partnership between the Centre for Contemporary Dance (ZZT) in Cologne and ESAC – École Supérieure des Arts du Cirque in Brussels, a film and discussion series in cooperation with ARTE, and a festival-themed publication of the magazine VOICES in cooperation with the journal Theater der Zeit.

Artistic direction: Tim Behren
Curatorial advice: Jenny Patschovsky, Valentina Barone
Management/Production Management: Mechtild Tellmann / Luzie Schwarz
Artists: Elena Zanzu, Alexander Vantournhout, Bastian Dausse, Muovipussi, Viktor Černicky, Alice Rende, Piet Van Dycke, Marija Baraunauskaité, Overhead Project a.o.

Festival: festival grounds at the Latibul Theater- & Zirkuspädagogisches Zentrum, Cologne: 23–29 May 2023; residence programme: CircusDanceFestival at the Latibul Theater- & Zirkuspädagogisches Zentrum, Cologne: 1 Mar. – 30 Nov. 2023; ESAC academy, Brussels and ZZT, Cologne: 1 Feb. – 31 May 2023



ein TANZPAKT Stadt-Land-Bund Projekt der
Kompanie Overhead Project.

Büro Overhead Project / CircusDanceFestival
An der Schanz 6
50735 Köln (external link, opens in a new window)