Research on Social Circus

This section compiles circus-related academic (circademic) research both published and underway. It is not an exhaustive database, but provides some key resources.

Research on Social and Emotional Learning in Youth Circus commissioned by the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) and conducted by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.

The Center for Practise as Research in Theater, Finland presents Effective Circus, findings from evaluation of social circus programs for children, families, elders and the visually impaired.

Jill Maglio’s paper discusses her research on occupational therapy and circus. She details her project in Australia, the positive results circus had on the youth in her study, and the potential for partnerships to reach more communities.

This page shows the work done by Jill Maglio on Holistic Circus Therapy. Read about benefits and how it works.

Paul Woodhead’s report on his 2003 Fellowship with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, where he visited and studied nine US, UK, and Dutch in-school circus programs’ management and teaching practices and efficacy in terms of student welfare, performance, and physical education.

The National Institute for Play unlocks the human potential through play in all stages of life using science to discover all that play has to teach us about transforming our world. See how playing through circus can make a difference.

Click here for an overview of Dr. Dean Kriellaars’ work with physical literacy.

Community worker’s guide: when circus lessons become life lessons. This document published by Cirque du Monde offers community workers a specific tool adapted to the social circus particular intervention context.

This article by Kate Hammer was published in the Globe and Mail and details the research that Dean Kriellaars is doing on Physical Literacy. The article discusses the history of physical education, and how physical literacy can be used with children to help prevent injury.

Kristy Danialle Seymour’s paper titled “How circus training can enhance the well-being of autistic children and their families.”

Students from Princeton University collaborated with Trenton Circus Squad to write “CBLI Report: The Benefits of Social Circus.”

This article, titled “BLAKflip and Beyond: Aboriginal Performers and Contemporary Circus in Australia” investigates BLAKflip and Beyond, a program of workshops set up by the Australian circus company Circus Oz to mentor and support young Aboriginal performers by providing training and pathways into professional circus.

Exploring the Experiences of Adults Participating in Community Circus Classes: The Synergistic Relationship Between Circus and Occupational Therapy, written by Jessica Baumgold, explores the adult experience of a community circus class through an occupational therapy lens.

Social circus and health equity: Exploring the national social circus program in Ecuador

Cuerda Firme – a model for Social Circus programming. Cuerda Firme is a regional social circus model formed by three circus schools in South America.

Circus Arts Therapy® Fitness and Play Therapy Program Shows Positive Clinical Results – Carrie Heller, MSW, LCSW, RPT and Dr. Lauren Taglialatela

Falling together: an examination of trust-building in youth and social circus training – Stephen J. Cadwell

These resources are not available to the public, but may be obtained through university / library networks or by purchasing:

Social Circus: The Cultural Politics of Embodying “Social Transformation” – Jennifer Beth Spiegel

Social Circus as an Organised Cultural Encounter Embodied Knowledge, Trust and Creativity at Play – Ilaria Bessone

Re-approaching community development through the arts: a ‘critical mixed methods’ study of social circus in Quebec – Ilaria Bessone and Stephanie Parent

Social circus program (Cirque du Soleil) promoting social participation of young people living with physical disabilities in transition to adulthood: a qualitative pilot study – Frédéric Loiselle, Annie Rochette, Sylvie Tétreault, Michel Lafortune & Josée Bastien

Here is a list with dozens of additional resources: More CircAdemic Resources

To add any resources you find useful, email them to