The Circus at School. Artification, Legitimation, Standardization?

I. Research Papers
By Magali Sizorn

The circus, although long absent from the schools, is now programmed as part of physical education lessons. But, at least in the official texts, this is not the circus of sawdust, acts and virtuosity. The introduction of circus practices in the schools is related to its institutional and aesthetic transformations, and to its “artification”: the circus today is recognized as an art form. For this reason, it was able to enter the schools legitimately, occupying the same place in the programs as contemporary dance. It even seems to meet the hopes for a linkage between technique and sensitivity, performance and poetry. But how does the process of bringing the circus into the schools work? What values and goals are attached to the circus arts? What is understood by art and sensitivity? If, as Pierre Sansot writes, sensitivity refers to “what affects us and resonates in us,” the circus and artistic activities have no monopoly on sensitivity, and they even at times lack the possibility of reconciling school disciplines and the solicitation of the senses, in particular in the case of tests of assessment and certification.


  • circus
  • physical education
  • artification
  • schooling
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