Circus tradition in Latvia is very old and strong, and because of the government support traditional circus is in privileged position comparing to both Lithuania and Estonia as well as the contemporary circus.
For long time Contemporary circus here was mainly known thanks to guest performances organized by “Jaunais teātris” Institute. In 1997, Latvia was first of the three Baltic States to receive foreign contemporary circus artists. Subsequently, audience was encountering contemporary circus, generally was the one with increased interest in the theatre. Workshops for professionals in various fields have been held at the time of some guest performer visits, but have failed to evolve into lasting contemporary circus projects.
A contemporary circus youth studio “Beztemata” in the city of Liepaja has disciples of different ages performing shows and engaging in the social circus. It is the only organization, that focuses and works on the promotion of Latvian contemporary circus, but its field of activity is limited geographically and the number of students is relatively small.
In Latvia, where traditional circus field has a broad study infrastructure and there is no shortage of circus professionals, lack of initiative and willingness to engage in contemporary circus can partly be explained by the lack of information and often negative attitude towards the contemporary circus by the traditional circus artists.
In 2013 festival Re! Contemporary Circus and Street was found. Since then the festival takes place every August and brings great number of circus performances and workshops helping to change the image of circus as well as works with local authorities in order advocate circus as an art form. Festival has joined international networks to help the development of the circus in Latvia.
The platform for Contemporary circus in Baltics Next Door Circus is an association based in Latvia. Besides the advocacy and promotional work in the region, organisation regularly holds workshops and organizes circus events in Latvia.
After the workshops organized by Re! Contemporary Circus and Next Door Circus during the festival on 2014 the first aerial classes for adults where proposed in Riga, and one of their students has got into a professional circus school in 2015.
Text author: Māra Pāvula from Next Door Circus project.
Next Door Circus is a member of the Baltic-Nordic Circus network.