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about

The Superior School of Circus Arts (ESAC) is the only school in Belgium that offers an officially-sanctioned degree program in circus. Students who successfully complete three years of study at ESAC are awarded a Bachelor’s Diploma (180 ECTS-Bologne credits) in Performing Arts and Arts Promotion / Communication Techniques — Circus Concentration.

Studying at ESAC is a full-time commitment, and students are not able to engage in other activities while enrolled. ESAC teaches the full and varied spectrum of skills that today’s professional circus artist requires. Students must display competence in their chosen specialty to be granted admission. In addition to their speciality class, they will have workshops in show creation, academic courses, and required independent projects, as well as classes in dance, acting, music, hand-balance, and acrobatics.

ESAC became a qualified degree program in Belgium, on a par with existing schools of visual arts, music, theatre, and film, as a response to a perceived need to initiate a collegiate-level institute of circus arts into the Brussels-Wallonia Federation of Superior Arts Schools.

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The political body behind the ESAC, the French-Speaking Community Commission (COCOF), unwaveringly guarantees the availability of the school’s unusual and world-renowned pedagogy. They are working tirelessly to provide ESAC with a state-of the-art building, configured specifically with the début of the new Master’s program in mind.

 

 

history

ESAC has existed in its current form since 2003. Many people have been instrumental in its creation and continued productivity. If this colorful cast of characters has sometimes disagreed about who did what exactly, one thing is clear: each player in ESAC’s illustrious history has been, in some important way, a contributor to the development of the Circus Arts.

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Cirque du Trottoir, at the end of the ‘70s, was the first Belgian company to subscribe to the values of the Nouveau Cirque. Our French and North American cousins, in the grip of the same cultural moment, were witnessing the rise of congruent circus companies: in France, Archaos; and in Canada, the Cirque du Soleil. And almost immediately after the birth of the Nouveau Cirque movement, people began to consider how its legacy would be passed on. The year 1981 saw the establishment of the first circus school in Brussels, L’Ecole sans Filet  (the School Without a Net), inspired by Annie Fratellini’s groundbreaking academy in Paris. Sans Filet is at the root of numerous educational and artistic projects in Belgian circus today.

Among these projects was ENAC, a circus school founded in the Sovereign Educational Centre. Initially established as a preparatory school, training youngsters for admission to collegiate-level circus programs, ENAC produced a generation of artists that are still influential in the field. ENAC became ESAC in 1999, re-baptized by COCOF, and within just a few years the fledgling school was recognized as the 17th Superior Arts School in Belgium’s French-language community.

 

 

financing

COCOF (Belgium’s French-Speaking Community Commission) is the Organizing Power behind ESAC. That is to say, the school is subsidized by the French-speaking community. By decree, ESAC is guaranteed a recurring annual grant and the right to fill 17 full-time-equivalent faculty and staff positions. COCOF also has the power to allocate additional human and financial resources if the school requires them to fully realize its educational and artistic program. COCOF is an Organizing Power responsible for providing Official, Neutral, Subsidized Education.

Auderghem Commune, which has welcomed the school since its earliest days at the Sovereign’s Educational Centre, covers all expenses related to the building in which ESAC is housed. ESAC shares the services provided by the Commune with the other educational institutions based in the same building (Cirquétudes Pre- and Primary School, The Franz Constant Academy of Music, IAPS, and other para-scholastic programs).

COCOF has recently granted ESAC the money necessary to move onto the CERIA campus. A building dedicated to teaching the Circus Arts is currently undergoing renovation. This is a major step forward. It will permit ESAC to develop new programs and to present student work on the school premises. The new building will provide both the students and the teachers with better tools, created especially to facilitate circus creation.

 

academic authorities

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ESAC has been part of the Academy for Research in Higher Education (ARES) since 2014. This academic umbrella organization began to take shape in 2009, and today states its credo in the “Decree Defining the Landscape of Higher Education and the Academic Organization of Studies.” The object of the decree is to harmonize the landscape of Higher Education in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation, placing students at the center of the conversation. It seeks to facilitate and enrich their personal journey, during their studies but also for the rest of their lives, and to create a student status which is standardized across all the participating institutions.

Thusly, the universities, colleges, superior art schools, and vocational schools are encouraged to foster synergy and collaboration. They are called upon to continue the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research, so as to live up to a European or even global standard. ARES is the authority concerning standards of operation in higher education, and it is responsible for the general coordination of activities in Belgian schools. Regardless of the material in which each institution chooses to specialize, ARES assures that schools in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation are represented as a united mass comparable to other, foreign educational structures (major universities, research centers, etc).

The Bologne Decree of March 31, 2004, is in a similar spirit to the Landscape Decree. It was also a decisive step towards greater coherence between Higher Education programs in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation.

BRUSSELS ACADEMIC GROUP

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Institutions of Higher Education in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation are split into five groups according to geography. The administrative body that heads each group aims to encourage and support all kinds of collaboration between institutions within the group in order to offer to students resources of high quality.

In the Brussels Academic Group, there are:

  • 3 Universities 1
  •  8 Superior Arts Schools 2
  • 9 Colleges 3
  • 27 Vocational Schools 4

THE CHAMBER OF THEMATICS: Formerly known as the High Council of Artistic Education, the Chamber of Thematics brings together representatives of all the Superior Art Schools. It deals with issues specific to teaching each artistic discipline.