Why circus arts and festivals are a match made in heaven

Contemporary circus acts now seem almost de rigueur at international arts festivals but is this just a fad, or evidence of the art form’s growing maturity and complexity?

Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam’s Lang Toi. Photo credit: Nguyen Anh Phuong.

From Perth and Sydney to Castlemaine, as Australia’s international arts festivals reveal their programs it’s become increasingly common to see contemporary circus works from Australia and overseas programmed alongside opera, dance and the best of local and international theatre. But what is driving the art form’s growing popularity – and has circus become de rigueur on the festival circuit?

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts