Discipline – Clown

  • What is a clown?

    It is not easy to identify the exact historical evolution of the clown. Similar characters exist in several traditions, including the 16th-century Italian Commedia dell' Arte tradition. The clown's role, like that of the jester, has often been to turn a mirror on power and humanity, and this role has been considered sacred in several cultures. 

    The circus clown presumably emerged around 1800 as a character whose purpose was to fill the intervals between different acts of vaulting – the dominant circus skill at the time. Soon after, the clown developed independently into characters like the white clown and Auguste. Since its appearance, the clown discipline has expanded, and in contemporary circuses, you rarely see the traditional clown with his red nose.

    Something called the » modern clown » has emerged through the work of different clown masters and their schools and is now fully integrated into contemporary circus and circus education's stage training. One tendency is to work with a grotesque form of humour, concentrating on social criticism.

    Here, the focus is not slapstick and performing tricks but to shine a spotlight on social vulnerabilities and the many things we are not allowed to do according to the norms that govern society. Another tendency in contemporary circus is to show the person behind the extreme performer. This is often done through the aesthetics of the clown and his attitude towards failure and success. A typical example exists in the work of Cirque Petit, where » anti-tricks » are used. These stunts are not arduous in reality, but they are performed and presented as the most challenging and fantastic tricks in the world.

  • Learn how to clown

    We don't offer courses in clown, but we know a lot about the discipline. Contact us to learn more.

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