the school | 









écoles soeurs

sister schools

ESAC was founded on the expertise of other trailblazing circus schools: The National Centre of Circus Arts in Chalôns-en-Champagne (CNAC), The National Circus School in Montréal (ENC), and National Center for Circus Arts. ESAC was one of the first circus schools to be integrated into the Bologne system, a step which allowed it to grant its graduates a Bachelor’s Degree in Circus Arts.

Since 2003, the promise of ESAC’s program has continued to grow and improve. The foundation of Annie Fratellini’s Academy in 1974 changed the nature of the circus world forever, shifting the majority of circus training away from the traditional families and into new circus schools. If this training model was revolutionary at the time, who then would have believed that, forty years later, circus universities would take their place among other institutions of higher learning in the arts? Today, the map of Europe testifies to an exponential increase in the number of circus learning institutions since the late 20th century.

Circus fans and students are apparently unstoppably mobile. Participate in a convention or attend a school show and it becomes clear: distances in the circus world are small, and the nomadic tradition is very much alive and well. Circus artists, students, and teachers travel non-stop, and as a result the major circus schools are intrinsically linked. If circus is now reaching to the far corners of the world, the circus community remains small and tightly-knit.

the Fedec network

It quickly became clear that the circus schools would benefit from forming an official network. Often from the moment of their inception, the schools have been sharing ideas. Thus, even before ESAC’s official foundation, it helped organize (along with CNAC and Circus Space) the European Federation of Circus Schools.

Today the federation brings together 40 schools and 14 circus-related organizations from 23 countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chili, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). By the strength of its members and partners,  FEDEC has become a formidable network. FEDEC facilitates a healthy conversation between circus schools and organizations, encouraging an exchange of ideas about teaching and helping circus grow as an art form.


This network is essential to the organization of student, teacher, and administrative exchanges between schools. FEDEC’s stated goal is to initiate, formalize, and realize practices leading to the development and evolution of circus pedagogy and creation.


masters 2

Brussels is one of the hearts of Europe, and very much a vital organ. For artists, this city is a meeting-place of ideas, with inspiration around every corner. The vitality of Brussels’ stages, and of the arts in general, is remarkable. There are many art schools here, and for good reason: it’s impossible to be bored in Brussels! One loses count of the things to love about this city: its accessibility, its friendly citizens, its delicious mussels and its dirty sidewalks… the city acts like a magnet, and many are the nomads who keep Brussels as their base. Many ESAC students remain in Brussels after they graduate—there are always circus people passing through, facilitating an exchange of job opportunities, contacts, and housing. Moreover, many companies have chose Brussels as a place to find residency space and develop material—the spaces here are modest, but offer a large degree of freedom.

With l’Espace Catastrophe, les Halles de Schaerbeek, the Trapeze Workshop, the Brussels Circus School, and la Roseraie; close to Circus Centrum and Latitude 50; with dance companies like PARTS, Charleroi danses, and Ultima Vez; offering both independent arts spaces and official cultural centers; seat of the Commission of Circus, Fairground, and Street Arts; serviced by Brussels-South railway station and two airports—Brussels is, like a heart, infinitely connected.


Since its official recognition in 2003, ESAC has conformed to the guidelines laid out in the 2004 Bologne decree. This document formalized equivalency between European degrees and assures the mobility of students throughout academia in Europe. By describing the component parts of the academic program, the Bologne decree guarantees the transparency of the University-level school system in Belgium’s French-speaking community. The resultant diploma is therefore a known quantity, not only within academia but also in the European workplace.

The diploma is composed of two documents:

  • the diploma identifies the awarding institution (with a logo), as well as the graduating student (last name, first name, date and place of birth). It specifies the academic year in which the diploma was granted, the type of degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s in…) and the level of distinction attained.
  • the supplement to the diploma (SD) contains information about the nature and level of the completed studies, the institutional context in which the studies were completed (Superior Art School), the language or languages of study, and peculiarities of each student’s program, as well as an explanation of the ECTS classifications in force at ESAC

link to the Bologne decree

A circus open to the world brings the world into its ring.


In order to develop its international actions, Esac has requested for an Erasmus+ charter.
Please contact the international office for any questions :
Thaïs César – – +3225267902

Declaration of Erasmus Material Strategy for the 2019-2020 period

L’École Supérieure des Arts du Cirque (ÉSAC) adopted the Erasmus University Charter starting from 2018-2019. ESAC has been a member of the European Federation for Professional Circus Schools (FEDEC) since its establishment which was built upon a strong international partnership (notably between the National Centre of Circus Arts Châlons-en-Champagne (CNAC), The National Circus School of Montreal (ENC), and the National Center for Circus Arts (NICA)). This relationship could also be consolidated by the endorsement of the Erasmus Charter.

In this regard, the FEDEC is the holder of the European project INTENTS whose aim is to define and recognize the profession of a circus arts teacher in its continual training and is related to the innovative pedagogical tools specific to this field. ÉSAC’s eligibility was under the condition of the adherence to the Erasmus+ Charter; it is clear that the possibility of creating collaborative projects, for the future, whether they are supported by the FEDEC and ÉSAC, needed this upgrade.

Adopting the charter allows to best share techniques amongst partners, in order to increase the quality of pedagogy put in place. Thus, it is initially the development of staff personnel (for both training and teaching missions) that will be implemented by ÉSAC, so as to allow the development of international partnerships in the circus artist sector, and more generally, to put the focus towards benefitting the students (including the development of new techniques, the prospects for new perspectives, the creation of new contacts, and the development of new institutional and relational networks) initiated by international academic exchanges.

ÉSAC adheres to the objectives of the Lifelong Learning Program and implements an international exchange policy, which will eventually be active for students in the context of internship development (especially for young graduates). Promoting internationalization has been a priority for ESAC since its beginning.

At ÉSAC, the modularization of courses, the use of ECTS credits, the presence of numerous nationalities represented by the students and academic staff are just some of the elements that demonstrate the interest and determination to actively participate to the construction and the enlargement of the European Union. Making students aware of cultural differences and the importance of foreign languages betters their abilities to adapt to the challenges of the job market, especially in the field of circus which is by definition international and intimately involved in a multicultural dimension.

To give visibility to the possibilities offered by the Erasmus program, a panel of activities will be proposed: socio-cultural activities, information sessions, exchanges of experience, boards reserved for international relations. The website (French and English) already contains useful information and will include the Erasmus Charter and the Strategy Statement.

An institutional coordinator (the head of the International Relations Unit Education & Training of the COCOF – CRIEF) ensures, together with the implementation coordinator, the global management of mobility for both students and staff (teaching, administrative and technical) in collaboration and in consultation with teachers. Together, all of these positions certify the development of networks of partners to grow according to local needs and projects.

ÉSAC has a website with pages dedicated to international relations where students and staff members have access to all useful general information concerning the Erasmus Charter and contact persons. The international office also has full-time hours available to students and staff of the school.

ÉSAC supports the fight against all forms of discrimination in its educational, social and cultural project and has the means to carry it out. Convinced that diversity is a source of wealth for all, it welcomes all students, members of the administrative, technical and teaching staff, without any distinction of race, culture, gender or religion.

In order to ensure the quality of developing activities, ÉSAC:

  • Applies the ECTS system in all sections
  • Regularly updates the academic curriculum to better meet the requirements of the working field
  • Regularly updates its website

For its staff members, ÉSAC:

  • Organizes informational meetings
  • Provides practical assistance (travel, accommodation, program, administrative assistance)
  • Offers structure for the demand at the institutional level and remains available before, during and after mobilization;
  • grants a supplementary budget (dependent upon the available financial means) if the Erasmus grants are insufficient;
  • discusses development experiences at work meetings.

For incoming staff, ÉSAC:

  • communicates information via the website;
  • welcomes the staff member upon arrival to promote integration into the local culture (visit of the school, meeting with other students or staff members, presentation of course offerings, observation of courses);
  • assists in finding suitable accommodation or, where appropriate, provides access to an accommodation area reserved for guest teachers;
  • organizes socio-cultural activities;
  • offers the opportunity to improve one’s language skills.

For outgoing students participating in exchange workshops (especially for recent graduates), ÉSAC:

  • organizes information sessions (administrative, pedagogical, legal, financial and cultural aspects);
  • provides information of partnering and mobilization activities through the international relationships and organizes information sessions;
  • grants additional financial assistance to students who request it on the basis of a social survey;
  • Provides insurance for visiting workshop students
  • Organizes a debrief to evaluate the high and low points of the experience after the exchange.

ÉSAC respects “The Commitment to Quality” of the Erasmus program. For all students who wish to carry out an optional exchange internship, the school provides a pedagogical, cultural, legal, administrative and technical preparation and considers the need for linguistic preparation. All of these approaches make it possible to better adapt the exchange experience to the student’s learning path.

ÉSAC, the hosting institution, and the students or recent graduates will be bound by an internship contract. This contract defines the objective of the exchange and the obligations of all involved parties. It clearly indicates the duration and the program of the internship, the financing, the payment deadlines, the follow-up and the control of the project. It also includes a detailed schedule of activities, follow-up, and evaluation of skills.

The quality of the workshop is guaranteed by the designation of a reference person in both the host country and the students originating country in order to allow the student to better integrate in their new environment and to ensure an administrative and educational support. These persons will be directly concerned around the student and will continue a permanent line of communication between each other.

The beneficiary’s exchange experience is valued, validated and evaluated either by the sending institution or by the host institution. Upon return, a debriefing will identify successes and address difficulties encountered. When completed prior to graduation, the internship will be an integral part of the syllabus and the marks awarded will appear on the student’s report card supplementary to their diploma in order to improve international transparency and to facilitate the academic and professional recognition of qualifications. For internships for young graduates, the procedure for encoding this mobility by encoding it on the website will be explained.

Lastly, ÉSAC will provide a continuous and punctual evaluation (executed through particular working meetings, or contacts made with the FEDEC network) of its international field of action, in order to update the possibilities of exchange at every moment, as well as the demands on the local or international level.