International in scope, the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) is a higher-education institution for the arts providing programs at the high school and post-secondary levels. It is dedicated to the education and training of professional circus artists, as well as to research and innovation in the circus arts and their pedagogy.
A reputation of excellence
Internationally renowned for highest-quality training, the School opens its doors to more than 150 students from around the world. The School’s staff, a dedicated team comprised of more than 80 teachers, lecturers and artistic advisors, provides students with exceptional resources. These passionate and experienced professionals have all made a mark in their respective fields, which encompass circus, education, sports and the performing arts, in Canada and beyond. With new facilities that cater to all disciplines while promoting safety, the School provides a unique learning environment.
In every country where the contemporary circus has taken root, has come to be considered a resource in matters pertaining to the training of highest-caliber circus artists. Its international standing also translates into an ability to attract students from around the globe.
A School for the arts dedicated to circus
For more than 30 years, the ENC, a school for higher education in arts, after the great schools of music, dance and theatre, has trained hundreds of artists who have undertaken professional training. The placement rate for graduates averages 95 percent. On the strength of their great versatility and mastery of their chosen discipline, these artists continue to develop their crafts as they perform in the most prestigious venues on all continents.
Throughout its history, the School has remained independent of circus companies yet sensitive to their evolution and to the need for setting professional standards for circus artists. It has contributed directly to the circus' development in Quebec and Canada. It is proud of its role in the flowering of the majority of Quebec circus companies, such as the Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize and The 7 fingers.
In 1981, there were no contemporary circus companies in Canada.
In 1981, not one professional circus school could be found in North America.
In 1981, a circus school was born in Montreal.
At the Centre Immaculée-Conception, a circus school begins to attract young artists interested in theatrical acrobatics. A real passion for all circus arts develops, training expands. The clown Guy Caron and the acrobat Pierre Leclerc, co-founders of the School, develop a program that attracts students of various backgrounds, united by a firm intention to become true circus artists. Very soon the Centre Immaculée-Conception can no longer contain the rapid growth of the School. In 1989 the ENC will move to Dalhousie Station facilities in Old Montreal. The only institution to offer professional circus teaching in North America, it has become one of the world's major circus schools.
Meanwhile, contemporary circus arts experience exponential growth throughout the world. The need to train a greater number of versatile and highly skilled artists, by now the hallmark of the Quebec circus, is apparent. The School launches into a new phase of growth that sees it relocating to the Cité des Arts du Cirque as a founding member, along with Cirque du Soleil and En Piste, the national network for circus arts. In 2003 the ENC completes the move to a new building custom built to its specifications in the heart of the Cité, as this new complex is known.
Creativity forms the heart of its teaching program. The School strives to be a true laboratory of experimentation where interpreters-creators and directors can both practice and innovate. After 30 years, it intends to continue this mission by actively supporting and training human resources involved in the circus arts sector, as well as the diverse esthetic forms that will shape the circus of tomorrow.
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