The Fourth Encounter continued to build conversation on artistic research in contemporary circus – more particularly building upon the critique formulated by Sebastian Kann in his Third Open Letter (2018). The Third Open Letter was in some ways a critique of the universalism of the previous two Open Letters written by Bauke Lievens. The Third Open Letter was a plea for refracting the possible futures of circus; a plea for otherness, difference and subcultures. Also the inscription of circus in the discursive system of (spoken and written) language was being held to the light. In accordance to this critique, we proposed the Fourth Encounter as a space in which we wanted to experiment with a refraction of voices, a multiplication of dialogical approaches and an unfolding of different ways of mapping these.

We asked questions such as: how can we understand our practices as research? To prepare for this, we asked participants to formulate a central element of their practice as a question (for example, ‘how can circus technique train sensitivity?’;  ‘what does it mean to make difficult things look easy?’; or, ‘can there be circus without a human body?’). Secondly, we engaged with excercises through which we might tackle that question, in language, image, movement, indoors or outdoors … trying to remember to be inclusive of the many different bodies (with different histories of movement-based / language-based training) which were present at the encounter.