Sirkuksen ja fyysisen teatterin tutkimuslaboratorio Montrealissa 3.–13.7.2018


Research-creation methods and embedded observational research in contemporary circus and physical theatre


3 to 13 July 2018.


This interdisciplinary seminar will provide an opportunity to learn, explore and refine research methods in the performing arts with a focus on contemporary circus and physical theatre. While there will be a theoretical component, including the introduction of diverse qualitative methodological approaches to research in the performing arts, most of the seminar will be constructed on the principle of experiential learning and systematic observation of the creative process. The seminar will run all day, every weekday. Evenings, students will be encouraged to attend performances of Montréal Complètement cirque in order to discuss the work with the group the next day.


Local, national and international graduate students (enrolled in MA, MFA, PhD) with a particular interest in research-creation, action-research and participant observation methods. Some experience in theatre, dance or contemporary circus or their academic study is encouraged. Professional artists with a strong desire to engage intellectually will also be considered.


Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux
Professor, English
Professeur titulaire, Études françaises

Guests will include teachers from the National Circus School (Montreal), professional directors and artists as well as other researchers from the field.

Course structure

A detailed syllabus will follow and the course will have its own dedicated website with schedule, readings, course and daily objectives and course blog.

The objective of this course is to offer students an opportunity to learn and enact different qualitative research methodologies in the performing arts. Students will leave this course with a more comprehensive understanding of how different methodologies interact with research questions and research dissemination.

After an initial contextualization (Montreal as a site for performative research; disciplinary and mixed research methods; strategies and ethics of research-creation), students will then engage for two weeks with researchers, professional artists and students from the National Circus School. They will have practical assignments based on their research interests and previous experience while working closely on the performative research dissemination and live performances of the professor’s ongoing circus dramaturgy project with the National Circus School of Montreal. There will be opportunities to share with participants of Montréal Complètement Cirque’s international marketplace (artists, directors, producers and other international students and observers) as students will all have PRO passes to the festival giving them access to invitation-only events, talks and having a preferential discount on tickets.

For a few hours a day, students will be matched up with creative teams from the research project. Students with experience or an interest in oral history, ethnographic observation could be involved in on-site observation and reporting. Students with creative backgrounds in theatre, dance or circus training could be participants in action-research workshops with the research team and participate in daily retroaction with the artistic and research teams. Students with high performance sports training could shadow or assist with the professional coaches. All will have a pedagogical debriefing every day with an opportunity to discuss and reflect upon questions pertaining to disciplinary and mixed research methods, embodied research and the analysis of the creative process.

Finally, as an opportunity for dissemination of their own perspectives on action and experiential-research, students will also organize and host a public panel discussion.

Please note that this will be a very intense and intensive seminar that will require your full attention and presence every weekday from 10 am to 5 pm, followed by recommended evening shows. Weekends are free to rest and to work on assignments. Readings will be sent four to six weeks ahead of time for students to arrive prepared.

Sample weekday: morning lecture or seminar discussion or creative exploration and embodied research; afternoon embedded work observing, analyzing and engaging with acrobats and instructors; late afternoon group retroaction, discussion, and deciding on the next day’s objectives; then attending evening shows at the circus festival for analysis and discussion.

**Accommodations at Concordia’s historic Grey Nun’s Residence, a few steps, from the summer school will be offered to out-of-town registered students who request a room for the duration of the seminar.


The students will contribute 2 short texts to the class blog (either critiques of shows or essayistic explorations of themes that are coming up in the seminar). These blogs will be only accessible to the professor and other students. In the past, a few blogs were selected to be published and shared (with the students permission and some additional editing):

The students will submit 3 short observation reports of the ongoing artistic work following various research protocols.

The students will organize a series of panel discussions on the last day of the seminar in order to present their own research, explorations, observations and to articulate a course of action for their work. Some students will moderate talks, others will engage in the discussion, some who might prefer not to speak publicly will find other ways to contribute.

A final paper will be submitted two weeks after the last class.

Tuition Waiver Awards

A limited number of students will have access to tuition waiver awards.  Their letter requesting financial assistance will take into account the pertinence of the seminar for their course of study (MA thesis or PhD dissertation) or particular direction their research is taking as well as financial need if their home institution, affiliated research center, department or supervisor cannot support them for the travel or registration costs.

Tuition waivers awards will cover tuition, New Student Fee and Student Identification Card fee.

How to apply

Send a letter of motivation to to both Prof. Louis Patrick Leroux, , and the Summer School coordinator Vincent Martineau .

In the letter indicate:
–  what is your academic and artistic background;
–  why you would like to be part of this seminar;
–  how this seminar could be useful or even essential to your own academic or artistic work, to your thesis or dissertation;
–  that you have understood and accept the intensive nature of the seminar and know that the days will be long and that you will be expected to be an active participant.

Also, please indicate if you would like to be considered for one of the fellowships that Concordia is offering and why you should be supported.


For Quebec residents: $351.27 CAD
For Canadian, non-Quebec residents: $841.23 CAD
For France-based Masters and PhD students: $841.23 CAD
For international MA and PhD students: $1,712.76 CAD

*International students must purchase Health Insurance through Concordia’s International Student Office (ISO) at a cost of $91.58 CAD
*Students who have never taken a course at Concordia University must pay $25.00 CAD New Student Fee
*In addition, students that are not previously registered at Concordia will need to obtain a Student Identification Card at a cost of $11.50 CAD.


Is this the same course that was given last summer?

Last year’s seminar:

No, it is a new course and repeat students are not discouraged from applying. Last year’s seminar focused on Québec Performing Arts on the World stage. It offered theoretical and historical perspectives on the unlikely emergence of Montreal as a hub of contemporary circus. This year’s seminar will also be embedded as part of the international circus festival but it will be less historical and discursively driven but rather more hands-on and experiential.

Can I get credit for this course?

Yes, but if you are not registered at Concordia, contact us and we will work with you to provide you with all the information your home institution requires. You can also register as an Independent Student

Is there a syllabus?

Yes, though the detailed syllabus will only be revealed in May. The seminar will have its own dedicated website with a detailed bibliography and course objectives.

Can I apply for more funding?

If you are not a Concordia student, we strongly encourage you to apply to your home institution for funding for travel and accommodations. Once accepted into the seminar, the professor can write an official letter of acceptance and recommend you for funding.

What is the language of instruction?

English. A passive understanding of French could be useful to fully follow the discussions during the festival and some of the workshop interventions, but the official language will be English. Papers can be submitted in either English or French.

I am about to start a MA or a PhD at Concordia. Can I apply to the summer school?

This can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.


Dr. Louis Patrick Leroux
Professor, Department of English
Professeur titulaire, Département d’études françaises

Concordia University
1455 boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3G 1M8
Office LB 644-7

Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada
Membre du Collège de  nouveaux chercheurs et créateurs en art et en science de la Société royale du Canada

(Concordia Universityn tiedote 6.2.2018)