Blog: A Lithuanian perspective on the NuoraNORD project

  • Marija with the members of the Association of contemporary circus Lithuania. Photo: Marija Baranauskaitė

NuoraNORD project participant Marija Baranauskaitė from Lithuania shares her experiences on the project so far:

I am a Lithuanian, emerging, new circus artist who spend last three years studying and working in Belgium and France. I recently had the privilege of being selected to join the NuoraNORD project. A one-year program for young circus companies and communities in Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. NuoraNORD aims to develop sustainable artistic links between all the countries involved and create a strong circus community in the north of Europe.

While working on my artistic career, performing, creating and producing my own shows, teaching, bringing my knowledge to Lithuania, NuoraNORD is a huge source of inspiration and support.

From each country two producers or artists are taking part in all the workshops. The participants selected through an open call are me, Marija Baranauskaitė (Association of contemporary circus Lithuania), Selene Abonce Muhonen (Sisus & Art Society Now /Finland), Gildas Aleksa (Cirkulijacija Festival & Šelteris venue / Lithuania), Patricia Franke (Agent Franke / Sweden), Janis Laucenieks (Association Sansusi / Latvia), Ance Strazada (KVADRIFRONS / Latvia), Kaito Takayama (KaSa Company / Finland) and Mikaela Valencia Veide (Kaaos Kaamos / Sweden). We are all very lucky to be coordinated by the mentor Isabel González. Just following how she organizes our meetings, listening what experience she has, going through challenges and various practical tasks together has teached us very quickly and a lot.

So far two of the four workshops arranged have taken place. The first was in Riga and was titled: Working as a producer or manager in the field of contemporary circus. In a workshop led by Louise Michelle, the really inspiring co-founder of l’Avant Courrier, production and management office for contemporary circus shows based in France, we mapped the infrastructure of circus in our home countries and explored the role of producers in the Baltic- Nordic contemporary circus field. Local Latvian performance field professionals also visited us. This gave us an idea of the artistic scene and possibilities in Latvia and good examples of people thriving in this artistic community.

The second meeting was in Helsinki and focused on Strategic planning in artistic work. The workshop in Helsinki was lead by Isabel Gonzalez who introduced us with the methods by Dave Allen, how to focus on strategize the process of our work. We also attended a workshop or active talk lead by Daniel Gulko, where trough the movement and different exercises we had to face and answer to our most important motivations and questions.  We had the chance to express our own personal Manifestos through different mediums and (as an exercise) perform the worst show we could possibly do. These exercises gave us the means to define ourselves as artists and producers and at the same time they highlighted our similarities. Despite our different backgrounds most of us were united by our quest for connection, vitality and our ambition to push beyond the limits and take risks to save the world through our art. We noticed that a mistake could be a gift if you are ready to accept it.

The next two gatherings will take place in Vilnius in September and Malmö in January and will focus on international marketing and network development.

I am representing Lithuania in these workshops and for me it is a great opportunity to look at the artistic scenes in my neighboring nations. Lithuania has a circus scene that has been developing rapidly over the last few years, but does not have the means or the experience that the other countries in the NuoraNORD project do.

Lithuania is a country with huge potential. People are hungry for more cultural events, they are motivated, curious and working hard to make it happen. Lithuania‘s second biggest city Kaunas was selected to be the European capital of culture in 2022 so we have a huge opportunity to grow and make new art forms alive in this relatively small and young country.

The new circus scene in Lithuania comprises mainly of the two festivals: New Circus Weekend and the educational circus festival  „Cirkuliacija“ organized by the theatre company “Teatronas“ (celebrating its’ fourth year this July).

Apart from these few weeks of new circus being alive in Lithuania the rest of the year is relatively quiet. To become a circus artist is really complicated, as we do not have the infrastructure and enough education in circus arts. Artists, I am one of them, who are interested in seeking a career in contemporary circus are forced to go abroad for a professional education and to work.

Luckily Lithuania is growing and developing. We already have a very strong international organization called Red Noses Clown Doctors, and some burgeoning Lithuanian artists who have completed fully, partly or are completing their professional circus training abroad (some names to keep and eye on in the future: Monika Neverauskaitė, Džiugas  Kunsmanas, Kęstas Matusevičius, Urtė Šimkonytė, Elena Nechiporenko, Konstantin Kosoveč, Zilvinas Beniušis, Indrė Lencevičiūtė). We are seeking to find the best ways how they could share their knowledge and bring fresh ideas and talent to Lithuania.

At the end of March this year I was one the founders the Association of Contemporary Circus of Lithuania. The main inspiration for creating this organization was the New Circus Weekend – the biggest new circus event in Lithuania, which has been successfully presenting the best international circus artists for the past 13 years.

The creation of this association was a first step toward creating a chance for the circus community of Lithuania to become united, strengthened and inspired to grow. For the moment we are seeking to create the conditions for more workshops to happen so that local artists can progress, make more productions and collaborate internationally. We also want to spread information about the work we are doing to the world.

The NuoraNORD project is giving a great opportunity for artists from all over the Baltic-Nordic area, and is an important project for new circus. It leads the way for more projects and a further integration of the circus communities in these countries. I am very thankful and happy to be a part of it.

Text by Marija Baranauskaitė