The history of Cirkus Cirkör

"Tired of dreaming big and living on a small scale, we decided to go for broke and make the dream a reality"


The beginning

Cirkus Cirkör NGO was founded


Circus pilots

Cirkör starts Cirkuspiloterna, the first post-secondary circus education in the Nordic countries.


High school

Moves to new premises in Botkyrka. Start our upper secondary school of circus.



Cirkus Cirkör receives the status of a regional artistic institution with a fixed grant from the Swedish National Council for Culture, the City of Stockholm, Stockholm County Council and Botkyrka Municipality.

Circus with a heart

Cirkör is a play on the french words 'Cirque' and 'Coeur', circus and heart. Cirkus Cirkör started as a non-profit organisation in 1995. The first show Skapelsen premiered at the Stockholm Water Festival.

Total chaos on stage. Karl wants the performance to be free from linear narration, Janne cares about the theatrical and poetic elements, Henrik wants more Rock n’ Roll.

1995 From dream to reality

There is hardly any reasons for contemporary circus artists to stay in Sweden. But after having organised a 24-hour festival at Orionteatern in Stockholm with 200 young artists and creators on stage, more and more people feel compelled to stay here and build something new.

The dream becomes reality when Tilde and the artists she has managed to persuade to stay in Sweden start creating a show, Skapelsen (The Creation). The next step is to build an organisational body. Together, the creators of Skapelsen found the non-profit organisation Cirkus Cirkör. Cirkör’s objectives and statutes state the will to establish contemporary circus as an art form in Sweden, artistically and pedagogically, develop and increase the possibilities of contemporary circus culture, put Sweden on the world map of contemporary circus, and inspire and be inspired by young people and street culture.

1996 40 000 want to train circus

Following the touring and the bartering with schools, there is an increased demand for circus training. We arrange circus schools and open circus
training at the Cultural Centre of Stockholm, and during six summer weeks over 40 000 visitors show up. After this summer we realise we are not the only ones missing the art form in Sweden.

Now we need premises to be able to capture all this newly found passion and interest in circus.

1998 Super hero success

In 1997, we meet the film and music video director Jonas Åkerlund and instantly hit it off. With too small a budget, and without a stage or staff, we outline a joint tribute show to all the everyday superheroes. When we fail in
getting a production company to invest, Jonas’s comment, » I want to do this, even if we have to do the show in my backyard » becomes the trigger. We decide to take responsibility for the production ourselves, with only three people working in the office.

Super Cirkör, Under the mighty Western bridge, opens during Stockholm’s year as the European Capital of Culture. The film showed on a giant screen. Motorcycles and 30 circus artists require a stage that does not exist in Stockholm. We cover the Western Bridge in canvas, we build a giant grandstand, we park caravans there for the international artist to stay in, and open the best bar that summer! The venture is enormous and bankruptcy feels impending more than once. But the audience shows up – every night people flock under the bridge and Circus Cirkör has suddenly become generally known.

1998 tightrope walking in a wheelchair

Our vision is that all children and youth should be given the opportunity to experience the circus. A physical or mental disability should not stand in the
way. In 1998, we, therefore, start our first Circus training for children and young people with disabilities. This branch of activity grows and develops. Circus educators, who want to discover what every child wants and can do unhindered by prejudices, refuse to read the children’s diagnoses before the
training begins. At first, this raises resistance amongst the adults closest to the children. But when a boy in a wheelchair starts tightrope walking, the scepticism amongst the adults disappears. Ten years later, we publish the book För Modiga (For the courageous) with stories from all the courses, tours, camps, partnerships, educators, parents, and brave children and youth.

2000 Botkyrka – Sweden – the world.

Step by step we move to Botkyrka. The cultural centre Rotemannen and northern Europe’s most modern circus hall are inaugurated with a
circus carnival and ribbon-cutting by the Prime Minister. At last, we have a base in which the art form and we can expand, where we can work locally to reach globally, from the inside and out… physical intelligence on the timetable.

We restart our educational work by accepting the first class of students
for a three-year contemporary circus programme at S:t Botvid’s Upper Secondary School. The program is national and students come from Lund in the south to Umeå in the north. The professional training programme Cirkuspiloterna also moves into the newly built circus hall and becomes a
three-year full-time training programme with students from all over the world.

The international breakthrough! In collaboration with Orionteatern in Stockholm, the director Lars Rudolfsson and the band Urga, we create the performance Trix. After a sold-out season at Orionteatern, we begin our first major world tour, which also becomes the big international breakthrough
for Cirkus Cirkör. The Trix world tour continues for two years, and in 2001 we achieve another dream – to perform at the most famous venue for contemporary circus, Parc de la Villette in Paris. The French newspaper Le Figaro encourages all French contemporary circuses to be inspired by the Swedish Cirkus Cirkör, and Le Soir in Brussels writes that from now on, Sweden has not only ABBA and IKEA to offer the world, but also Cirkus Cirkör.

2005 Circus to the academy

To lobby for Swedish university status for the circus artist education programme is not a rapidly resolved challenge, but after seven years of work, the Ministry of Education and the Cabinet Office make their final decision. In 2005 Cirkuspiloterna ceases to exist, but the circus education is resurrected as a tertiary programme. Because of the rules of the Swedish school system, the programme is launched under the auspices of the University College of Dance in Stockholm.