Circus

About Circus

Big tops, sawdust, animals, sensational feats: The circus evokes numerous clichés – many of them no longer accurate. Because young circus artists have long since been searching for new forms and formats in the field of circus arts. Contemporary circus is one of a number of forms in which these efforts for renewal have manifested – and it is now at the centre of Berliner Festspiele’s new programme “Circus”.

Originated in France around the year 1970, contemporary circus is committed to a new orientation in circus arts: Its artistry becomes part of overall aesthetic and dramaturgic approaches, creating theatrical formats at the meeting points of circus, performance, theatre, dance, music, visual art as well as light and media design. Multi-faceted narratives emerge, guided by individual artists’ specific forms of expression and focusing on the performance’s contemporary element.

Berliner Festspiele are particularly interested in approaches where genres overlap, experiments are ventured and boundaries are questioned. In both their locations, they will provide a platform to contemporary circus and give their audiences an opportunity to get acquainted with this art form – largely unknown in Germany so far – to discuss and contextualize it. Berliner Festspiele will undertake an exploration of contemporary circus in their programme series “Circus”, which will present productions and guest performances in the Berliner Festspiele’s venues twice a year. Johannes Hilliger and Josa Kölbel, organisers of the Berlin Circus Festival, will be the programme’s curators.

Johannes Hilliger
© Berlin Circus Production

Johannes Hilliger

Born in Berlin in 1987, Johannes Hilliger was appointed curator of Berliner Festspiele’s programme series “Circus” in 2017. From 2011 to 2013, he trained as an event organisation manager at Willy-Brandt-Haus and the SPD’s party executive, where he worked in event management until 2014. One year later, he began to study business communication at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences. Since 2015, he has been the managing director of Berlin Circus Production – Hilliger Kölbel GbR and director of the Berlin Circus Festival, which takes place annually at Tempelhofer Feld and presents productions, artists and positions of contemporary circus.

Josa Kölbel
© Berlin Circus Production

Josa Kölbel

Born in Berlin in 1986, Josa Kölbel was appointed curator of Berliner Festspiele’s progamme series “Circus” in 2017. He has been working as a trainer and coach in various circus disciplines since 2006. He was educated between 2008 and 2013 at the Fontys Academy for Circus and Performance Art (ACaPA) in Tilburg and at the Centre national des arts du cirque (Cnac) in Châlons-en-Champagne. Until 2016, he was featured in numerous productions as a professional circus artist, actor, dancer and performer, among them “Dolls” and “Family” (directed by Rotislav Novak), “Alerte” (a creation with Aerosculpture) and “X Circusexperiments”. Since 2015, he has been the managing director of Berlin Circus Production – Hilliger Kölbel GbR and director of the Berlin Circus Festival, which takes place annually at Tempelhofer Feld and presents productions, artists and positions of contemporary circus.

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