BETA CIRCUS Participatory experience


Artistic experience

1 - 19 May 2024
Highschool Tvrđava
Novi Sad, Serbia

Developed by Ludifico.

Immersive residency of the artistic experience with Compagnie FENFIRE [AT] and Jovana Rakić, Marko Milic and Milena Todorović [RS], with the artistic mentoring of Ana Bragança and Ricardo Baptista [PT].

Stay tuned for more information soon.

The project FENFIRE was founded in 2004 by Sebastian Berger and a few other ambitious artists in Vienna. From the beginning the association has been working and teaching the craft of object manipulation all over Europe and represents a high level of technique and a combination of special stage designs. Since 2010, the core team of Company FENFIRE has been Christiane Hapt and Sebastian Berger. Together they work in the experimental, transdisciplinary field of object manipulation and juggling techniques, among others. Sebastian Berger developed most of the common repertoire of their respective masteries. Both are trained product designers and have been active in the performance field for many years. Consisting of both product designers and circus artists, FENFIRE tries to unite sculptural and dramatic arts in their productions in order to show their audience the verve of object manipulation. Furthermore, the Association is committed to the visibility and promotion of contemporary circus and object manipulation in Austria. Since 2012, FENFIRE has been a board member of the Austrian Federal Association for Circus Education. Since 2016, FENFIRE has also been producing pieces in the contemporary circus field. In October 2017, their first full-length play (one of the first ever in Austria) “TRUST IN TIME.INC” premiered as the first circus piece ever at the noble Wiener Neustadt Stadttheater. FENFIRE performed in 41 countries and 4 continents so far.

Milena Todorović, Marko Milić, and Jovana Rakić are a part of collective renowned for their expertise in contemporary dance and dedication to participatory practices for children. They have been immersed in researching and refining approaches that engage diverse participants in the performing arts, igniting creative approaches, curiosity and empowering young participants within contemporary dance and multimedia. Artistic collective has realized several remarkable participatory projects and programs aimed at young audiences. Notable examples include “Mali Bali” in 2022, an educational project fostering innovative and immersive learning experiences. Another notable success is a participatory dance performance titled “Under the Half of a Drop,” which received the Audience Award at the Festival of Ecological Theater for Children in 2021. From 2017 to 2019, the artists curated the captivating “Museum of Dance,” an interactive dance performance tailored for children aged 4+. Additionally, their “Teen Generator” educational program, running from 2016 to 2022, explored the vibrant history of dance through insightful dialogues between artists and young people aged 12 and above. Their commitment lies in nurturing children’s curiosity and providing a structured environment for their active participation, exploration, and self-discovery. Through fresh and direct encounters with art, particularly practices for children and young people draws inspiration from their own artistic journeys and the exemplary works of artists around them. Embracing participation, they actively invites the audience to co-create, fostering shared experiences and interpretations of artistic practice, ensuring a sense of shared ownership in the creative process.

Ana Bragança and Ricardo Baptista are co-founders of Ondamarela, a Portuguese collective specialized in participatory arts. Ana Bragança is a cultural manager, with main action in participation, mediation and community involvement projects. She was advisor for the participatory and mediation program of Braga’27, candidate city for European Capital of Culture and is currently working for Braga’25 – Portuguese Capital of Culture. Previously she was a consultant for Opium, in projects such as the Plan for the Dynamization of the Douro Wine Villages, the Management Plan for the Historic Center of Porto World Heritage and the bid of Guimarães for the European Capital of Culture in 2012, where she was part of the executive board. She was project manager at A Oficina, where she coordinated the incubator for creative industries at Plataforma das Artes e da Criatividade. She also collaborated with the educational service of Centro Internacional das Artes José de Guimarães and co-coordinator of the West Way Lab Festival 2014. She was also part of the team that developed the exhibition guide for Casa da Memória de Guimarães. Ricardo Baptista is a musician specialized in conceiving and developing work with communities, working for projects as “GuimarãesPlay” for Guimarães 2012 – European Capital of Culture, “Operação BigBang”, “Orquestra da Bida Airada” (Ílhavo) “Ode to Joy – a citizens orchestra” (Presidency of the European Council – Malta 2017), “Mewga Muzika” (Valletta 2018 – European Capital of Culture) and “Genau!” – Festival Der Regionen (Austria, 2019). Currently both are working for Acts programme, from the National Odyssey of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, among other participatory or collaborative cultural programs, with the participation of different artists and communities.

How truthful is the reflection in the mirror? Do I exhibit different behaviour when a mirror is present in the room? What occurs when I hold a mirror up to the education system in Serbia? How do I perceive my situation, my surroundings, and myself in the mirror? And can I successfully balance a stick while gazing into a mirror? The Austrian circus company Fenfire, along with Jovana Rakić, Marko Milic and Milena Todorović from Serbia, are exploring these and other questions. Collaborating with students and staff from the private gymnasium Tvrđava in Novi Sad, they are engaging in a two-week participatory process to create a performance. This performance will take place within the school building and will be open to the public. The project is supported by the Ondamarela collective from Portugal, known for their participatory artwork with diverse communities. The primary materials being used include mirrors, manual light sources, and sound recordings. Additionally, the circus element as a form of expression will be empirically analysed. This experiment’s outcomes and answers, much like in the fairy tale Snow White, may only be known by the mirror itself.