Carriers, Those Seeming Heroes: Might They Be But Ordinary Humans?


  • Marion Guyez University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès


This article intervenes in a conversation about the representation of gender in contemporary circus creation by analyzing the show Undermän, written and directed by the Swedish acrobat Olle Strandberg in 2011. Strandberg’s show takes as its subject the gendered relationship that normatively structures mixed duos in the discipline of hand-to-hand, in which a “carrier” (usually a man) supports a “flyer” (usually a woman), who balances on the hands of the carrier. Undermän follows three men (carriers) in the fallout of their romantic and professional breakups with their girlfriends, who were also their artistic partners (flyers). The absence of women flyers in Undermän transforms the way in which the discipline of hand-to-hand is usually presented on stage. The show deconstructs the gendered duality of hand-to-hand and sheds light on the sensitive sides of the carriers not typically shown. In this article, I argue that Undermän critiques the norms of the circus as much as social norms organizing the representation of gender.  

Author Biography

Marion Guyez, University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

Marion Guyez is a circus artist with a PhD in the performing arts. She is the co-director of the circus company Compagnie d’Elles. Her doctoral thesis examined the hybridization of acrobatics and textuality in contemporary circus scenes. She is the author of numerous publications on circus aesthetics and gender and street art. She teaches at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès.






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