• NEW ENGLAND Circus college is planned in Maine
     | August 16,2013

    PORTLAND, Maine — A nonprofit group announced Thursday that it plans to open a circus- performance college in Portland.

    The newly formed Circus Conservatory of America would offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in circus studies and would be the first school of its type in the U.S., conservatory President Peter Nielsen said at a news conference.

    The school plans to offer courses that focus on theatrical, acrobatic and artistic elements, rather than old-fashioned clown acts and animal tricks.

    “Contemporary circus combines traditional circus disciplines with modern dance, dramatic theater and multi-media,” Nielsen said. “Today’s circus performers must learn to master much more than a set of physical skills and they deserve the opportunity to pursue an education that prepares them to make their highest contribution as artists and global citizens.”

    The college would be located in a converted 33,000-square-foot brick building on the former Thompson’s Point industrial site that developers want to turn into a multi-use development with an events center, a hotel, a sports medicine lab, residences and office space.

    The school has launched a capital campaign to raise funds for construction with a goal of the school opening by the fall of 2015, Nielsen said. The school is also seeking accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Nielsen said Portland was chosen as the school’s home because of its strong creative economy, its transportation network and its proximity to Quebec and Vermont, which he said are hotbeds for circus performing arts.

    Cirque du Soleil performing arts company is based in Montreal. Circus Smirkus is based in Greensboro, Vt.

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