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Center for Circus Arts Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer


Through a network of circus researchers, technicians, directors, educators, artists and managers, it works with organizations, companies and producers of all sizes specializing in circus arts; with school, community or institutional organizations; as well as with ancillary industries related to creative production or development.


The six major research fields

  • Technological innovation through the development of equipment, costumes, accessories, and scenery specific to circus disciplines
  • Circus Arts teaching
  • The writing and dramaturgy of the Circus Arts
  •  Adaptation and application of new interactive and immersive technologies to the Circus Arts
  •  Health and safety in the practice of Circus Arts 
  •  History and aesthetics of the Circus Arts

SSHRC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Circus Arts

Montreal is recognized around the world as a leading light in circus arts creation and production. The enviable reputation enjoyed by the city’s companies and other organizations in the circus arts sector is attributable not only to the quality of their artistic productions but also to their ability to enrich and renew their aesthetics. To meet this need for enrichment and renewal, the specialized creators in this sector must work in increasingly complex environments. Artists, designers and teachers need to master tools that will enable them to forge new forms of knowledge and incorporate them into creation and teaching contexts. Companies specializing in the creation of circus works must devise sustainable development strategies to ensure not only the distinctiveness of their works but also the long-term viability of their organizations.

Toward these ends, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Circus Arts was established to act as an intermediary in the evolution of the Canadian circus by systematically and sustainably conducting research and innovation activities that contribute to the enrichment of circus practices. The Industrial Chair program focuses mainly on innovation through improving research and creation activities, scenario development and teaching practices in the circus arts. It also seeks to achieve innovation through the adoption of new immersive and interactive technologies by the circus community. These research activities will help to promote healthy lifestyles in Canadian youth through an analysis of the impact of introducing them to circus arts practice and also assist industry partners in maintaining their competitiveness on the international scene.

The École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) and its highly qualified staff, through ongoing consultation with industry, have consistently ensured that ENC graduates possess the skills needed to meet industry requirement. This ongoing linking with the School's industry partners ensures not only the exchange of expertise but also the continuous improvement of practices in accordance with market demand.

In assuming the responsibilities of the position, the Chairholder draws upon a professional network in the Canadian circus arts sector and university organizations conducting research related to the circus arts, and on experience in managing research projects related to circus arts teaching and creation.

  • BackgroundOpen or Close

    For more than 30 years, the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) has undertaken a number of research initiatives relating to creation and education. The Research Department was created in 2010 following the implementation of policies and procedures to effectively define and establish the research function. It is recognized and supported as a research organization by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Since 2011, the Research Department has received research grants from the Quebec Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur (Ministry of Education and Higher Education) and the College and Community Innovation Program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

    In 2012, the ENC Research Department was awarded an Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Circus Arts. Patrice Aubertin, director of research and teacher training at the School, was appointed first Chairholder. All ENC resources in this area are directed towards implementing projects that fall under the six major fields of research identified as priority.

  • Research policiesOpen or Close

    Institutional policy objectives:

    • Identify areas of application, guiding principles and reference framework for research and innovation functions within the institution.
    • Define the organizational structure and support available for research activities.
    • Promote the integration of research to help the École nationale de cirque (National Circus School) fully realize its mission and institutional orientation.
    • Create an environment conducive to the realization of research and innovation projects, the development of skills in the field, and the ongoing progression of quality results from initiatives in this area.


    To learn more about the National Circus School Research Policies (in French only):

NEW: Circus Arts Research Platform

A worlwide free resource website for circus arts research now available!
The CRITAC, in collaboration with other circus institutions, now offers online access to more than 120 profiles of researchers, 2000 academic publications and 200 significant circus collections!

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