Research Programmes


Optimisation of performance by protecting artists and improving comfort during the performance of technical moves.


CNAC Research Programmes - Innovative textilesIn the field of circus arts, the process of risk prevention should start as soon as possible for students and teachers alike.  It should be integrated as soon as one starts learning techniques on certain apparatus and should be considered as much at the rigging level as with clothing. With regards to the risks linked to burns and overheating, the process of risk prevention passes through the conception of innovative training clothes adapted to the specific morphology of acrobats and their disciplines.  The problem of aesthetic is also added to the objectives of prevention: it is necessary to find a discrete alternative solution in order to protect the at-risk zones.

CNAC Research Programmes - Innovative textilesObserving that, to reduce burns or rubbing, students and professionals alike wear several layers of cotton clothes one on top of another or adapt the use protective-wear initially used by athletes (elbow and knee supports, football socks etc.), the Cnac called upon the IFTH, in partnership with the Integral Textiles Club, to produce a training clothing prototype that limits abrasions and burns on the skin and that can also be worn under a costume during shows.  We will start by specifically analysing three circus apparatus: rope, straps and Chinese pole, which are the circus disciplines the most susceptible to the ripping of clothes and to the rubbing or even burning of the skin.

Partners and collaborators:

- The Integral Textiles Club of Troyes
- ENSATT (The National School of Higher Education of Theatre Arts and Techniques), Lyon
- IFTH, The French Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Troyes

Expected Outcomes:

- Prototypes of strapping and clothing
- Reports and measurements linked to abrasion and heat transfer


- 2016-2017: Laboratory tests on samples of materials (ropes, straps, etc.) to investigate the rubbing or sliding of the body specific to each apparatus.
Then a test phase with acrobats of divers morphologies trying out Chinese pole and rope.  Assemble a collection of interviews with costume designers.
- 2017: Study day with the ENSATT. 

"The physical circus artist experience"

A project by Bernard Andrieu, Professor at CETAPS (Study Centre for the Transformation of Physical and Sporting Activities), faculty of the science of physical and sporting activities, welcome team 3832, at the University of Rouen (teacher at the Cnac).

Research Process

Physical techniques are questioning how the circus arts are learned. Bernard Andrieu suggests that students carry a GoPro on their bodies or apparatus, not to film their performance but their movement, thereby bringing the action to life in order to:
- constitute a physical culture in action for students and professionals based on an immersive GoPro experience and qualitative interviews of self-confrontation,
- question how the circus arts are learned; analyzing movement and distinguishing involuntary physical gestures (interference), which are incorporated and become automatic through learning and training, as well as intentional and conscious gestures during the exercise.

A new analysis of the activity

There are several stages to studying the body:
- year N: learning about your own body (physical structure and energy, appearance, the chronogenesis of learning, pain and fatigue, etc.),
- year N +1: using the GoPro and creating test images and thematic work (in the same way as a questionnaire used by a Master's degree student in the science of physical and sporting activities).

Based on the previous year's experience, these images are then analyzed:
- by the student
- during a qualitative interview with Bernard Andrieu about the physical experience and movement analysis,
- with the student and reference professionals for a didactical analysis of the gestures.
This research leads to:
- an educational reference system of self-assessment of the body in motion,
-a DVD of films recorded by the GoPro cameras,
- a reference book on methodology.

"Apprendre de son corps, une méthode émersive au Cnac"
Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre
Préface by Luc Collard
Foreword by Mathilde Christmann and Cyril Thomas
Afterword by Haruka Okui

Available for sale

Here some excerpts


A program developed within the framework of the ICiMa Chair - Innovation Circus and Puppetry / Chaire ICiMa - Innovation Cirque et Marionnette.

Bernard Andrieu

Bernard Andrieu is a philosopher, Professor at CETAPS (Study Centre for the Transformation of Physical and Sporting Activities), faculty of the science of physical and sporting activities, Research Unit 3832, at the University of Rouen (and teacher at the Cnac).
He writes the "blog du corps" blog and the Corps journal (CNRS publications).
In 2014 he published the following:
- Donner le vertige, Les arts immersifs, Montréal, Liber,
- Elèves et sportifs hybrides - Caméra embarquée : l'utilisation autoréflexive du corps vivant - EPS Journal April 2014
and co-directed Corps du monde. Atlas des cultures corporelles, Paris, Armand Colin 2013.

"Situation management"

A project by Philippe Goudard, Professor at the University of Montpellier III and the RIRRA21 research centre (and a teacher at the Cnac) and Philippe Perrin, professor at the University of Lorraine, faculty of the science of sporting and physical activities – Physiology and Balancing.

The RIRRA21 research centre (Research Unit 4209) and the performing arts department at the University of Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, constitute one of the pioneering university centres in France for the research and teaching of the circus arts, mainly through the programme entitled "Circus: the history, imagination and practices," directed by Philippe Goudard at RIRRA21.
Carrying out two simultaneous tasks can sometimes be difficult, even dangerous. A great degree of attention is required, especially as the tasks can compete with each other.
In the circus arts, a balancing task and a dexterity task can for example be combined in rehearsals, acts, and shows.
These tools can be applied to different fields and areas including lifestyle, nutrition, addiction management, physical training and ergonomics.
These tools will be developed in collaboration with the French and European circus schools federations.

Philippe Goudard >> His  biography
Phillippe Perrin >> His CV


Imen Zagohouani, a PhD student in medicine at the Laboratoire C2S, Research Unit 6291 – cognition, health and socialisation at the University of de Reims Champagne-Ardenne with the Champagne-Ardenne Work and Environmental Medicine Institute

Evaluating stress levels and how the body manages these by measuring certain criteria in the students before, during and after public performances.