Tilde Björfors: the woman who turned risk into possibility
Life is a balancing act. All our joys, failures and challenges are like a tightrope walk. Confidence emerges with practice, and resilience is built from failures. At Cirkus Cirkör we use different disciplines to tell tales, inspire dreams, and cross boundaries – but it all started as one woman stepped onto a tightrope.
Tilde is the artistic director of Cirkus Cirkör, with over 25 years of experience in the industry including creation, performance, education and management. Across her vast career, Tilde has been the driving force in establishing contemporary circus as an art form in Sweden.
From tightropes to teaching
By the time she was 20, Tilde had already initiated an upper secondary school programme about the blend of science and art, set up a touring theatre company and begun working with leading Swedish director Peter Oscarsson. At 22, she found her way to the Peking Opera in Paris and L'Académie Fratellini. It was here she stepped on the tightrope, and started a lifelong love of the circus.
In 1995, Tilde returned to Sweden and founded Cirkus Cirkör in two parts: one side for performance, one side for education. Today, our company has produced 30 full-scale shows and welcomes 40,000 people into our training facilities every year. Alongside this, our Cirkör Lab helps artists and collaborators bring their new work to life. Tilde has been deeply involved in our whole journey, and continues to be a steadfast ringmaster in our ongoing work.
A lifetime of circus
Tilde has been involved in a mind-boggling number of productions and educational programmes in her career
1996 – Ur kaos föds allt (Artistic Director): 70 performances on tour in Sweden and Germany.
1998 – SuperCirkör (Director Jonas Åkerlund, Circus Director Tilde Björfors)
1998 – under the mighty Western bridge (Artistic Director): 25 performances during Stockholm's European Capital of Culture
1999 – 00:00 (Artistic Director): 140 performances during two years of touring in Sweden and Europe
2002 – Romeo and Julia (Artistic Director): Two seasons with 135 sold-out performances at Elverket in Stockholm, in collaboration with The Stockholm Royal Dramatic Theatre.
2003 – Subörb – Circus and Arts Festival: ten days in Fittja, Botkyrka in cooperation with the Municipality of Botkyrka and Riksteatern.
2004 – 99% Unknown (Director Tilde Björfors, Choreographer Kajsa Giertz): Premiere in Düsseldorf, one season at Dansens hus in Stockholm, on a world tour for two years with some 120 performances. A co-production with Riksteatern, Altstadt Herbst, The Cultural Festival of Düsseldorf and the Teo Otto Theatre der Stadt Remscheid.
2005 – Havsfruen (Director Katrine Wiedemann, Circus Director Tilde Björfors): A co-production with Teater Kaleidoskop in Copenhagen, Denmark. It plays for two seasons in Copenhagen and one season at Dansens Hus in Stockholm, a total of 65 performances.
2006 – Momo or The Men in Grey (Director Niklas Hjulström, Circus Director Tilde Björfors) 45 performances at, and in collaboration with, Stockholm City Theatre in Skärholmen.
2008 – Inside out (Director Tilde Björfors): 170 performances worldwide.
2010 – Wear it like a crown (Director Tilde Björfors): Toured worldwide until 2015. Performed over 450 shows in total.
2012 – Knitted Piece (Director Tilde Björfors)
2013 – Knitting Peace (Director Tilde Björfors): Premieres in Marseille and continues to tour Europe, USA and South America until 2015. Performed over 300 shows in total.
2015 – Borders (Director Tilde Björfors) co-production with Malmö city theatre.
2016 – Limits (directed by Tilde Björfors). Premiere 2016
2016 – Satyagraha (Director Tilde Björfors) co-production with Folkoperan. Premiere September 2016. Performed at Folkoperan and Stora Teatern in Sweden as well as Copenhagen Opera Festival in Denmark and BAM in New York, USA.
2017 – Movements (Director Tilde Björfors) co-production with Malmö city theatre.
2018 – Epifónima (Director Tilde Björfors)2019 – God's Disobedient Rib (Director Tilde Björfors) co-production with the Royal Dramatic Theatre and Malmö city theatre.
Tilde isn't an ordinary boss. Using artistic process and circus disciplines as inspiration, Tilde has revolutionised how corporate structure and leadership can be. Her achievements have won numerous awards, including Leader of the Future (business category), by Junior Chamber International 2003, Svenska Dagbladet’s Stockholmer of the Year 2000, Ruter Dam’s Jubilee Award 2003, and the Curt Nicolin Award 2006.
For her artistic achievements, Tilde was awarded with the Culture Prize from Swedish publisher Natur & Kultur, as well as His Majesty The King's Medal of the 8th Dimension with Blue Ribbon and The Reumert Award for Best Performance. In 2017, Tilde was awarded two prestigious awards: the Swedish Theatre Critic’s Theatre Prize and Expressen’s Theatre Prize for Outstanding Theatre Arts for her direction of Limits and Satyagraha. In 2018, Cirkus Cirkör and Tilde Björfors were awarded with XV Europe Prize Theatrical Realities European Theatre Prize.