The artistic laboratory that took place at the end of November 2021 in Kaunas, at the circus school Cirko Sapiens helped circus artists to discover and expand their creative communication tools, sources, emotional and energy vectors via their circus disciplines while working solo and in groups. The main benefit of the workshop was the introduction of common creative means for artists to be able afterwards to evolve individually or while working in collaborations.

Workshop leader contemporary circus director, clown, mime and improvisation theatre actor  Pau Portabella was a true master in mentoring as during the week he dared the artists to share parts of their inner world, intimacy, thoughts, sensibilities and trust themselves as well as their creative partners. The tasks and exercises performed during this week as well as the final presentation also helped to create and strengthen a sense of Baltic circus community and gave the final boost of the year for Grassroot Baltic circus artists’ network.

Four days of the workshop were dedicated to individual and group tasks, to explore tools of artistic expression. Acting, improvisational tasks, energy boost, psychological emotional palette developers and body exercise techniques were used to push the limits of performers to face creative risks, confront personal fears, break emotional and physical barriers. Final two days were devoted to solo and group performance build-up of an impromptu final presentation.

During the workshop all involved artists chose tasks to create new ways of exploring, mixing and expanding their circus disciplines and push further their artistic skills. Estonian acrobat Lizeth Wolk was working on adding verbal storytelling to her aerial acrobatic routines. For the final presentation she also participated in a trio piece with Latvian cyr wheel master Aleksey Smolov and British circus artist, acrobat Joshua Frazer. The powerful trio excitingly explored dramatic dynamics of solo and group work. Aleksey Smolov both in solo and group performances continued to explore further deviation from classic Cyr wheel moves and tried movement research with a mini Cyr wheel. Joshua Frazer UK artist from the acclaimed Fauna Circus company explored emotional links and acrobatic routines and researched the ways of high technicality can be combined with true sensibility both in solo and trio arrangements.

Lithuanian performer Aistė Burkauskaitė combined her dance and movement experience and sought new ways of expression in collaboration with circus arstis Karla Arevalo. Both artists performed an emotional duo while exploring the human body in suspension and mixing contemporary dance, acting, vocalising and aerial silks. Latvia based UK circus artist and director Jason Dupree joined the workshop to develop directing and workshop leadership skills as he is also interested in exploring various techniques in the process of building a creative universe by a group of artists. He was assisting the workshop leader and other artists to explore the creative messages they have chosen to deliver during the workshop.

Lithuanian aerial rope artists Elena Kosovec and Konstantin Kosovec explored the energy boost concept and worked on techniques of emotion delivery to partners on stage and to the audience. Lithuanian aerial rope artist Izabelė Kuzelytė collaborated with Latvian contemporary dancer Alise Bokaldere creating a strong and emotional statement of mixed genres. Both artists amplified energies into one momentum of performing with a wide emotional palette.

Circus artist Aino Mäkipää performed a solo piece with genuine emotions and exciting technical elements on the Chinese pole. During the week, she explored how to be honest and real in a fictional landscape. She researched ways of not hiding the overwhelming feelings of a circus artist, but choosing the ones to share with the audience and testing the gradient of how much of this vulnerability she is able to share on stage. Lithuanian circus artist Kęstas Matusevičius was interested in developing a clowning sequence with witty and funny movement and limited vocal elements.

Those artists who could not join the whole workshop were welcomed to observe the workshop activities. Lithuanian based American artist Lyla Goldman and Lithuanian actress Karolina Povilaitytė also participated in the experience exchange process.

All artists admit that the workshop process was a true melting pot of ideas, emotions and great mix of circus techniques. Rīgas cirks expresses great gratitude to the workshop mentor, project partners – Circus school Circo Sapiens and all participants with hope to develop the Grassroot – Baltic circus artists’ network in the future.

Rīgas cirks coordinates the GRASSROOT – BALTIC CIRCUS ARTISTS’ NETWORK, which is supported by Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture.


Photos: Vytautas Paplauskas