Gender Asymmetry and Circus Education


  • Alisan Funk McGill University


This paper discusses asymmetrical gender treatment in circus schools where graduates obtain both an academic diploma and the competencies to begin a professional career in circus arts. The relatively recent global rise of professionalizing circus schools has both reflected and created the evolving landscape of contemporary circus performance. While students attend professionalizing circus schools to develop an artistic vocabulary, they also learn career management and become socialized into the norms of the circus industry. This paper summarizes the rise of professionalizing circus schools and explores key critiques levied at circus educational systems through the lens of gender equality. I then expand the scope of investigation to consider, from the perspective of circus schools, what factors might predicate gender disparity in circus education. In conclusion, I explore what actions can be taken by circus schools, circus students, and the circus community to favour gender parity.

Author Biography

Alisan Funk, McGill University

Alisan Funk is a Montreal circus coach, performer, and creator currently pursuing her PhD in education at McGill University. She has an MA from Concordia studying circus education and works as a research assistant on multiple projects examining technical and creative aspects of circus, theatre, and physical literacy.






Gender and Difference in Contemporary Circus (Section Editor: Karen Fricker, Brock University)