Baltic Circus on the Road: Circus Sabok


Circus Sabok – at Rīgas cirks Residency programme

At the end of the summer, from July 22 to August 4, 2021 the Estonian-Finish circus artists “Circus Sabok” were in the residency at Riga Circus in the frameworks of “Baltic Circus on the Road” project. Artists pitch at the open call competition of the project was chosen by an international jury and they were selected as a company with great potential to represent the quality of the Baltic circus arts in European scope. Baltic Circus on the Road program is supported by the Baltic Culture Foundation, and during the two-week residency artists worked on their own production – Hippopotamus.

The aim of the artists at the residence was to complete the dramatic structure of the performance so that the 25-minute work-in-progress format – could be performed at the festivals “Re Rīga!” in August and Helium in Vilnius on September 12th. The artists also worked on scenography and costume ideas. As a result bright costumes were created, which highlight the attractiveness of the artists, even when being outside of the stage as guests on the Latvian television (LTV) news program, in which they were invited as the opening headliners of the festival “Re Rīga” and after the performance in an interview with LTV Culture news.

The second creation of the young Baltic company Circus SaboK continues the research on choreographic hand to hand acrobatics combined with dynamic aerial rope. After graduating from Stockholm’s University of circus and dance in 2018, Saana Leppänen and Kert Ridaste have committed to building the field of Baltic contemporary circus. Their creations, though accessible for all audiences, are not afraid to address more vulnerable subjects affecting the humans of today.

After graduating from Stockholm Circus and Dance University in 2018, Saana Leppänen and Kert Ridaste are committed to making a creative contribution to the Baltic contemporary circus field. Their works, although available to all audiences, are not afraid to focus on current topics that affect modern people. The main goal of Circus Sabok is to consolidate the contemporary circus in the Baltics and promote its further development in the Nordic countries. They aim to create works that reflect the values ​​of young art professionals.

Kert and Saana are from the new generation of circus artists, the journey of both acrobats has lasted for more than two decades. Kert was engaged in acrobatic gymnastics from childhood and is one of the first circus artists in Estonia to obtain a bachelor’s degree in circus arts in Stockholm. Saana comes from the Finnish youth circus environment. Since the age of 10 she has chosen vertical rope acrobatics as her main discipline. Saana met Kert while working with pair acrobatics at circus school and soon formed the association Circus SaboK. Kert and Saana have performed all over the world. In 2018, they performed at the world’s largest contemporary circus festival, Circa in Ausch, France. They have also worked in other well-known circus associations – Cirkus Cirkör, Cirkus Nikolajeff, Circus I love you and elsewhere.

Foto: Inese Kalniņa

In the autumn of 2020,Saana and Kert’s debut show Don’t Leave Me Hanging premiered and was successfully shown eleven times around Finland and Estonia. Now they are working on their second show Hippopotamus.
During the residency, Circus Sabok artists worked under a mentor supervision. The artists were advised by Sade Kamppila and Julien Auger – the artistic directors of “Circus I love you”. Their company is currently touring with its performances Circus I love you (2018) and Utopia (2021) around Europe. They have also directed Cirkus Cirkör’s creation Bloom (2019). Sade is an acrobat specialized in swinging trapeze and collective acrobatics and plays the clarinet and ukulele. She has also worked as an artist for Circo Aereo, Cirkus Xanti, Cirque Kozh and CircusPerspektiv. Julien is an acrobat specialized in teeterboard, Russian swing and collective acrobatics, and plays the saxophone and tuba. Julien has worked with La WALF, Cie Escale’s Leurre H, Animal Religion’s Sifonofor, Dr. Natchez Trio and Cirque Barbu and currently tours with the performance 100% Circus.

Interview with Circus Sabokafter the residency

What were you expecting from the project and collaboration with Julien and Sade?
We expected them to help us to create dramaturge from the material we had. We have worked with them before, therefore we knew they would be the right people to contact to help to create dramaturge in such a short timetable. Also, we expected them to help us with the logistics plan for touring, since they have a lot of valuable knowledge on this. We had a clear idea what we wanted from them, and they delivered. We did not expect them to help us with the scenography of the show, but at the end they did have extra time to help with this as well.

How did you meet, how was the collaboration? Why were they great or not?
We have met Sade and Julien through another circus show. They helped us with the dramaturg of the last show as well. For us it’s easy to work with them, since our working methods are similar. They are clear about their opinions but give room for our own decisions. They helped us more than we were expecting with this short timetable. We were happy with the results.

What was your creative routine during the residency?
We started our day at 9am with a check it circle, where we shared the overall feeling of the day. Then we went through a list of things that should happen, after we started to work. The working day ended around 18 or after with a check out. In a check out we shared our overall feeling of the day or if we had something on our mind to share.

What were you working on – what were you planning to develop (techniques, scenes, …) and how it resulted?
Our aim was to have a structure for the demo presentation in the Re Riga festival and Helium festival. Another aim was to create a clear idea of the scenography and costumes of the show with a logistics plan for touring. We succeeded with the aim.

How did residency help and what are your next steps?
This residency was very important for us. We got a space suitable for the circus and we got support to be able to work with Sade and Julien.Next we have another two weeks of residency where we are going to finalize the demo presentation in a form that is okay to present for the audience.

Full length performance of Hippopotamus is planned to premiere in 2022.
Artist & director: Saana Leppänen (FI), Kert Ridaste (EE)
Dramaturge: Sade Kamppila (Fi), Julien Auger (FR)
Sponsors: Taiteen Edistämiskeskus, Sirkus Aikamoinen,
Co-producer: Sirkus Aikamoinen
Residency support: Riga Circus (LV), Tanssiteatteri Hurjaruuth (FI), Estonian culture endowment (EE), Circus I love you (SE)

“Baltic circus on the road” project is supported by Baltic Culture Fund