Quebec’s nouveau circus scene focus of faculty colloquium

Publication Date

Charles Batson, professor of French, will present a faculty colloquium, “Cirque du Soleil and Beyond: Quebec’s Expanding Circus Worlds,” Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 5:45 p.m. in Olin 115.

A reception at 5 p.m. in the rotunda precedes the talk, which is free and open to the public.

The capital of Quebec is home to three major circus companies (Cirque du Soleil, the 7 Fingers and Cirque Eloize), dozens of smaller ones, the National Circus School and an annual international festival that draws the world’s top circus talent.

Montreal’s emergence as the epicenter of circus is the focus of a new scholarly book, “Cirque Global: Quebec’s Expanding Circus Boundaries” (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), co-edited by Batson and Louis Patrick Leroux, associate professor of English at Concordia University.

As Batson told the Union magazine in its Winter 2017 issue, the tipping point came in the 1980s, when strong governmental and community support – along with cross-fertilization of a lively theater and dance scene – launched the circus explosion. The 1976 Olympics played a role too, pushing high-caliber athletes into the same training and movement spaces as circus artists, he said.

As part of his research, Batson has traveled to circus shows worldwide. He also teaches a course on Quebec. He told the magazine he hopes to repeat a campus residency he arranged several years ago with circus artists from Montreal.

“It was quite amazing to have my French students doing movement and theater patterns with these international artists, along with theater and dance students performing on stage,” he said. “This was the perfect example of the multidisciplinary nature of the circus scene.”

Batson joined Union in 1998.