Cavalia's Odysseo — A Biopolitical Myth at Work


  • Ante Ursic UC Davis Performance Studies


This contribution argues that the Canadian circus enterprise Cavalia’s production Odysseo communicates heteronormative and racially discriminatory meanings which are mediated through the horse-human encounter. Further, I place Odysseo on a historical continuum of a mode of performance that emerged at the second half of the eighteenth century: modern circus. The emergence of modern circus as institution corresponds with the materialization of what Michel Foucault termed the biopolitical regime. Drawing on Jean Luc Nancy, I suggest that the function of modern circus is not only to entertain but to operate as a myth for this new biopolitical paradigm. Odysseo stages an origin story in which the white, male, middle-class, heteronormative subject (the genre of Man) is at its centre by evoking affective states that help the members of the community identify with their noble and knightly origins. The horse becomes an important agent in order to flesh out who can be part of a chivalrous community and for whom this community is foreclosed.  


Author Biography

Ante Ursic, UC Davis Performance Studies

Ante Ursić’s professional career has been as a performer and choreographer in the field of contemporary circus. He performed with companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Circus Roncalli and Tiger Lillies Circus. At UC Davis, he is a PhD student in Performance Studies with emphases in practice-as-research, critical theory, and science and technology studies. Currently, Ante is investigating the animal-human relationship in traditional and contemporary circus.







Gender and Difference in Contemporary Circus (Section Editor: Karen Fricker, Brock University)