cursus | 

organization of classes








artistic classes

  • CIRCUS ARTS. This is the basic class at circus school, around which the other classes revolve. Circus arts classes take place in a regular fashion throughout the school year. Every student enjoys 8 hours of structured class each week, or a minimum of 250 hours per year. Professors who are experts in their disciplines teach the circus specialty classes. Associate professors come to enrich the principle teacher’s program with a complementary approach. Specialty classes are emphatically individualized to encourage the singularity of each student. What’s more, original research is always integrated into the technical study. The specific composition of each graduating class implies, every year, a re-organization of the training studio.
  • PERSONAL PROJECTS: Each student is accompanied in the creation of their personal project by a team of professors. Over the three years, these personal projects become more and more central to the program of study, being allocated first 40, then 50, and finally 100 hours. These periods of research all culminate in presentations. In the last year of school, the personal project is publicly presented at “EXIT,” at the Halles de Schaerbeek. Each student is invited to develop his or her own method of creation. According to the content of each project, the students choose their artistic advisors from amongst the qualified members of the faculty. They are allowed to convene a small team to help them achieve the work they envision: an artistic advisor, a technical coach, creative partners (set design, sound design…). Thus, the students learn to manage every element of artistic creation. The personal project helps students develop good critical thinking habits about their work and about art in general.
  • PUBLIC CREATION WORKSHOPS. Three years, three very different experiences.

In first year, students all do research on the same apparatus. This is an apparatus that no-one in the class has explored before, placing everyone on an equal footing. The apparatus in question could also be defined as a non-apparatus, seeing as it is no-one’s specialty and does not even necessarily allow a deep technical research. This workshop is a free space, where the constraint of “concept” is pushed aside to make way for pure inventiveness. The student is placed in a position of openness, both toward his colleagues and toward his or her own acrobatic possibilities.

cours artistique

In second year, the public workshop allows students to accomplish one of the two “final goals” of ESAC’s program: to perform in a collective creation, contributing to the realization a show at the service of an articulated dramaturgy and following the guidelines of a director. Students learn to take charge of their own research and establish propositions that are pertinent to the dramaturgy. The workshop is lead by a teacher / director who works within the school. The creative team is mostly internal to the school, and the workshop culminates with 4 public performances in the Jacques Brel Auditorium on the Céria campus.

In third year, the process is similar, but a team of professional artists from outside the school undertake the creation of the show. The budget and scheduled rehearsal time is doubled. The result of this process is 5 public performances.

  •  DRAMATURGY AND STAGE TECHNIQUES : This group of classes teaches material that is meant to enrich the PERSONAL PROJECTS. It consists of three complementary classes: dramaturgy, sound design, and circus engineering. Each year, a practical immersion in stage managing for circus is organized during Circa Festival in Auch, where ESAC students are responsible for welcoming the other FEDEC schools and helping them set up their presentations.
Creation panneau 01
  1. Dramaturgy

introduces students to the process of reflection that artists creating circus work must undertake.More specifically, it deals with “writing” a circus act. The three years of dramaturgy are structured around three questions, dealt with in the following order: What is dramaturgy? What can be done with dramaturgy? What is artistic creation?

2.sound design

In circus, sound is a fundamental partner. Music, ambiance, or rhythm; the acoustic element is all too often an afterthought, tacked on in the final moments of creation. But the element of sound can trigger, catalyze, or elevate work; it is just as important as any other element of dramaturgy. Learn to decode, to really hear. Learn to separate personal taste from the needs of each particular piece; to nurture receptivity and curiosity about new sounds and “difficult” sonic worlds. So that students can be as autonomous as possible, they will learn simple sound editing functions. This class will also touch on aspects of stage management and promotion.

3.stage techniques

Practical stage-management internship at the Circa Festival in Auch.



  • PERFORMANCE: This group of classes teaches dance, acting, and music. It is intended to enrich both the PERSONAL PROJECTS and the PUBLIC CREATION WORKSHOPS. Through a diversity of approaches, the performer deepens his skills in every possible kind of stage technique. As a result, the students will be comfortable in any kind of performance situation.

1. dance (educating the body in styles of movement).

Classical Dance class is adapted to the context of contemporary circus. It helps students develop ease, fluidity, and precision in movement. In classical dance class, students work their body awareness and their lines, as well as the co-ordination of their upper and lower bodies. As set vocabulary is at the heart of classical dance, the class emphasizes choreographic memory skills, teaching phrases which are then set to music. This class is preceded or followed by yoga. Improvisation class introduces the idea of movement research with one or several partners. Students work using specific spatial and temporal guidelines. The improvisational work is intended to help students develop autonomy, artistic intelligence, and creativity in movement. Contemporary Dance class develops the capacity for fluid, dynamic, and precise movement that respects the natural tendencies of the body. Initially, the class is focused on deploying each student’s technical capacities in terms of movement and style. It explores the body’s weight and the articulation of the body in terms of the floor and the surrounding space. Movement phrases are deconstructed to help students understand the path that a movement takes in the body, the goal being precision of movement.

2. Acting (general performance).

The different classes in the series Bodies in Shapes, Facets of the Body, and Body Games, are conceived as spaces for research and creation, both personal and collective. They aim to help students acquire creative autonomy, versatility, and the capacity to adapt to whatever creative context they find themselves in. Acting classes encourage students to be open to new ideas and to question what they take to be fact. They stimulate active consciousness of the senses, of the volume of one’s own voice, of one’s capacities and potentialities, and of one’s relationship to others and to the space. In all of the work, the ultimate goal is to convey some kind of meaning. In Acting, students seek to develop stage personae. The life of each persona changes and deepens depending on the stage space (stage, circus ring…). In this class, students learn how to encourage the audience to actively participate, leaving behind their roles as spectators and embracing the action. The actor must also nourish his or her own receptivity and reactivity, so that the relationship with others on stage will be real. The class Improvisation and Composition explores dramatic terrains which hinge on the language of the gesture and the expression of the body in different spaces and vectors. This practice will enrich students’ artistic propositions and provide a common creative language. It includes the exploration of space, rhythm, emotional and physical states, environments, urgency, and the creation of a dramatic situation.

3. music (An approach to musicality). The circus artist might be dealing with music and sound in general. The goal of this class is to sensitize the student to the importance of the body’s relationship to music and sound. This study is constructive for the student’s internal creative process, and enriches the quality of performance. It is an active, concrete study, not only of music (tempo, energy, structure, duration, variations…) but also of how to react to music (interpretations, phase, improvisation…). This reaction can be instrumental or bodily. This course will treat each student’s personal relationship to music: her or her “musicality.”

  • STAGE PRODUCTION AND LAW: This series brings together an initial glimpse into production and an overview of artistic law. These two classes are intended to be applied to each student’s PERSONAL PROJECT and are given to students in the 2rd year of school. These classes prepare students to actively participate in society as artists and help them acquire tools indispensable to their transitions into professional life.

general classes

ART HISTORY. In first year, this class initiates a reflection on the artistic act since the dawn of man. Why does man seek to represent and transform the world around him? Where does the word “art” come from, what does it refer to, what is its genealogy? What does the word “artist” mean? In second year, the class focuses on important works of art that speak to and represent the period in which they were created. Lectures alternate with visits to museums and contemporary art sites. In third year, students study contemporary art, from Duchamp to today, analyzing particular works and reading some theoretical texts.


CIRCUS HISTORY. This class intends to help students situate themselves in the shifting landscape of the circus arts. It encourages students to think of their artistic practice as a link connecting them to an artistic, social, political, and economic history, as well as a worldwide community. The goal of the class is to decode the changing meaning of “circus” and to trace the relationship that circus history has with history in general (and especially Western history). We will also study the changes that are currently taking place—a circus history of the present.

CIRCUS ENGINEERING. This class is mainly intended to assure the students’ safety in their future dealings with technical circus material. As a corollary, this knowledge will encourage free innovation within secure conditions. This class is required before students work high above the ground, suspended or in a harness, and before they use the rigging system or climbing tower.

SCIENCE AND APPLIED SCIENCES OF CIRCUS ARTS. The class revolves around three principle axes: basic anatomy as related to movement; muscular and articular physiology; and sports nutrition.The student will systematically study the body, starting at the torso and moving to the shoulder, the elbow, the wrist and hand, the hip, and the knee, ending with the ankle and foot. Then the focus will shift to hygiene: the food pyramid, sports nutrition, and hydration.


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technical classes

DYNAMIC ACROBATICS. In first year, the class focuses on mastering basic, isolated acrobatic elements. Students understand and analyze movement, develop a taste for trying new skills, and start to draw connections between different acrobatic techniques. Over the course of the year, the students gain more and more autonomy, deciding for themselves what they would like to work on. In second year, the focus falls more on creating short sequences of material, considering how to use acrobatic skills from the point of view of an artist. Part of the work in second year is also increasing acrobatic endurance, so that when the time come to use the skills in the context of creating work, they can be seamlessly integrated. Students are also asked to examine the sensations that acrobatic elements provoke in the acrobat, and to create novel elements specifically created to suit their particular capacities. In third year, autonomy is definitely the name of the game. Students design their own programs, detailing specific acrobatic goals pertinent to their specialty. They refine their skills, with a focus on consistency, amplitude, aesthetic, and difficulty.

STATIC ACROBATICS. This class is only given in the first two years. It focuses on balancing positions with two or three points of support, and improving general flexibility.

TRAMPOLINE. is an essential class for versatile circus artists. It is indispensable to any dynamic acrobatics and refines body awareness in the air. Trampoline class is a repetitive and demanding undertaking, designed to reinforce and improve the material seen in dynamic acrobatic class.


SPECIFIC PHYSICAL PREPARATION. This class is above all meant to prevent injury as students increase the intensity of their training. In “PP,” students work to achieve a balanced distribution of muscle. They refine their posture, stretch both agonist and antagonist muscle chains, and do exercises to reinforce their joints. Once the body is well balanced and protected, “PP” becomes a class about augmenting performance in each student’s specialty. Plyometrics, eccentric exercises, and explosive drills are gradually incorporated. The third year student is able to design his or her own program so as to maintain the necessary strength and prevent injury.


evaluation and juries

Students’ performance is evaluated in a number of different ways. Sometimes there are practical, oral, or written tests; sometime evaluation is performed throughout the class, sometimes is it performed by an internal or external artistic jury. Different combinations of the above are also possible. At the beginning of each school year, the main professors decide on their method of evaluation and compose their juries. The professors communicate their chosen method of evaluation to their students, defining their criteria and the graded weight of different elements. The procedure is detailed in the document, guidelines of study.