Interview with Daniel Gulko


Daniel Gulko will be one of the keynote speakers in this years RIGA ICCE conference – 10th and 11th of May at Riga, he will be speaking about Artistic Thinking in education & leading a workshop on Artistic Thinking. Here is a short interview with Daniel to get to now him better before the event itself.

Daniel is a conceptor, director, choreographer, performer, and orchestrator of chaos Iconoclastic and multi-disciplinary, the artistic director of the radical circus troupe Cahin-Caha defines himself as zen-anarcho- surrealist. Gulko has been performing and teaching art since 1979. He has led courses and projects at DOCH (University of Dance and Circus) in Stockholm, CODARTS Rotterdam, DAMU, and JAMU (National Theatre Academies) in the Czech Republic, the National Circus Schools of Montréal CAN, Cambodia, and Brussels BEL. He was twice an associate artist at the CNAC (National Circus Arts Centre), France in2005-2006 and 2007-2008, and the School of Fine Art in Aix-en-Provence in 2007. Renowned for having created a form of contemporary “research circus”, Gulko initiated the European research network “Lacrimae” in 2010 with Cirkus Cirkör (SE) and Cirk Laputyka (CZ), evolving into CARE, a European funded project with the same partners and others from 6 countries. He is currently the Artistic Director of the Circus High School of Stockholm at Cirkus Cirkör.

What excites you about circus right now?

I suppose it is my inability to know what Circus is – there are more structure, more programs and schools, more Social circus propositions. Circus is slipping its way into the other arts, into political programs, into well-being workshops. Circus is a political platform and an afternoon fitness project. Circus is becoming basic, normal. Dance companies have their acrobat on board, theatre companies have their trapezist. I guess this excites me in a weird way since I don’t do much of all that. My circus is on the margins, working between forms, so it has always been “not circus” in the eyes of culture programmers. Somehow now that Circus gets ordinary, I think it bodes well for Circus to continue its uncontrollable flight into the extraordinary. Circus performance has gotten more conservative in my eyes, as it has gained “respectability” – the dirt has been brushed off the shoes, the air cleared of the smell of animal dejections… yet somehow Circus keeps not fitting, breaking out and breaking down doors. Circus won’t stay put, it crosses borders more than any other art. I’ll take that to heart…

Why is it important to share information and experiences with others?

Information is power. Sharing power makes a stronger matrix and revolutionises the pyramidal power forms that capitalism adores. That’s not me trying to be political, it is just the reality – society wants few at the top. We change society by inviting each other in, sharing information, and recognising each other’s unique experiences and cultures. We get smarter and when we are each smarter together, it is more difficult to isolate us. We become a web – strong, sensitive, connecting. Ok, I am being political, in these shitty times – can I say shitty? – there is so much discourse about keeping us apart. So interconnectedness is a death-defying circus skill.

What’s one piece of advice that can be done anywhere by anyone that has been crucial in your artistic journey?

Get lost. Be lazy and distracted and just walk down a road because you see a nice tree in the distance. Wander, go to uncomfortable places (but stay safe please) – allow yourself to be silly, stupid, ridiculous. Laugh about it. Love that about yourself. Then write about it.

Who should come to Riga ICCE?

I should come! Because it is my first time! So I suppose new folks should come! Enthusiastic people should come! Curious types should come. I think young teachers, performers and organizers should come – shake things up and teach me something. I think artists should come to reflect on how transmission is a part of creativity. I think politicians should come to witness the alternative power source that is circus. I think all the people who think circus is still a clown riding on an elephant selling popcorn should come. Liars should come to hone their balancing skills. Oligarchs should come to practice juggling. Revolutionaries should come to add flips to their repertoire. Vegetarians should come to discuss what “death-defying” means. Children should come to laugh at our seriousness. Clowns should come to cry at our sillinesss. Somebody should come to collect money to help Ukraine. I should really come…

Riga ICCE 2022 is organised by Rigas cirks and Circus Syd

This activity is supported by Nordic Culture Point, Nordic Culture Ministry  and Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation. This program is made possible by funding from the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF). For more information about BAFF scholarships and speaker support, visit