Eric talks Barcode, life, writing and contemporary circus.

“I was thinking… what are you doing going to a business school? I don’t want to run a circus, I want to be in the circus!”

Listen to the full episode here!

“Juggling his way through an impressive stage career, Eric tosses us through his life in circus school, 7 Fingers, Cirque du Soleil events and what it’s like to create your own show from scratch. When finding your own process has its fair share of difficulties, he was able to articulate his own experience and interview influential directors on his newly coming book: The Contemporary Circus Handbook, A guide to creating, funding, producing, organizing and touring shows for the 21st century.”

Listen to the full episode here!

Listen to Eric on the IJA’s Official Podcast!

Eric talks with Dan Holzman about his life and career — and a bit about the book! — on “Drop Everything,” the official podcast of the International Jugglers’ Association. Click here to listen!

See Eric at Montreal Complement Cirque!

On July 10th, release day, Eric Bates gave a special panel discussion at Montreal Complement Cirque’s Marche International de Cirque Contemporain.

The audience heard about the process of writing the book, some of the lessons learned, and — best of all — were able to buy a copy in person at the TOHU!

The Contemporary Circus Handbook

a guide to creating, funding, producing, organizing and touring shows for the 21st century

A new book by Eric Bates

Print ISBN: 978-1-958604-03-8

eBook ISBN: 978-1-958604-18-2

Edited by Kim Campbell, with Benjamin Domask-Ruh and Thom Wall

The Contemporary Circus Handbook: A Guide to Creating, Funding, Producing, Organizing and Touring for the 21st Century is a guide to creating theatrical performance shows, built on interviews with dozens of creators who have made shows—big and small—throughout their careers. The author’s circus background is used as an example of practical steps for any performing artist to navigate: from applying for funding, building a team, planning workshops and residencies, and includes many compelling examples of the characteristics of successful shows. These lessons are applicable to circus, dance and theater as well as most performing arts.

Whether it’s your first foray into creating your own major endeavor—or you’ve got a couple of creations under your belt—you’re sure to find advice to improve your process and bring your dream show to life. 

“Writing a general guide to the art and the science of conceiving, designing, creating, producing, and operating a circus show is an audacious (some may say impossible) ambition. But if any book could articulate the complexity and the frustrating beauty of the process in a digestible way for first-timers and the seasoned veterans alike, this is the one. Nothing beats experience, but the next best thing is hearing about the experiences of all those who have gone before–and this is what this book delivers.”

James Tanabe, former Senior Director, Business and Creative Strategy, Cirque du Soleil

“So little has been written and published about the art- and company-making we do in the circus field, and many of us have had to navigate blindly for years. Eric has done the immense service for future directors, collectives, and company founders in exhaustively researching and compiling lessons and advice from such a wide range of his contemporaries. This book not only helps as a guide for such aspiring artists, but as a benchmark in the evolution of this profession; giving company making and circus directing its due as an emerging and powerful form that deserves study, understanding, dissemination.”

Shana Carroll, Co-Founder, The 7 Fingers

“Drawing upon the knowledge of the worldwide circus community, Bates’ compilation of experiential successes and failures demystifies one of the most nonsensical processes ever: creating a circus show. This book will hopefully be a sigh of relief to those promoting the understanding of circus as a legitimately distinct art form. I sure could have used this and probably will for my next show.”

Joseph Pinzon, Founder, Short Round Productions

“Eric has put together a detailed and comprehensive book filled with insights that anyone with a vision can use to bring it to life. Eric’s extensive experience as a performer, creator, and producer is obvious in the questions he poses and the insights he articulates. This book is a must for those with the desire to bring their shows to life.”

Zander Howard-Scott, Founder, Creative Sovereignty 

“Having navigated the complexities of contemporary circus performance and creation himself, Eric’s book fills a much needed space in circus literature and pedagogy by sharing the obstacles he’s encountered – both from his individual perspective and from that of the collective of a circus company, giving the reader guideposts to what can so often feel an illusory process of seeing a show through from conception to funding to creation to premiere to tour – and highlighting clear practices and ideas around handling psychological and emotional health as a group of individuals living, creating, and performing together. Through interviews with experienced performers and directors from around the world Eric shares multifaceted approaches to creation in different countries, companies, and contexts, and demonstrates how to find creativity within and freedom from the systems that contemporary circus is entrenched within. This handbook is sure to inspire an entire new realm of possibilities to the next generation of circus creators.”

Luther Bangert, Juggling and Movement Instructor, Circadium: School of Contemporary Circus

“An easy conversational style leads the reader through the book — full of interesting ideas and tips from practitioners, as well as Eric’s own observations and experiences. I like the way Bates leads the reader to think with him — how do I solve a problem? How do I think about this? Eric helpfully shows there are many ways to skin a cat… or make a show — which is true!

It’s really important for people to think about what they are doing as well as being fired-up by the idea of what they want to create. It’s a complex process!”

Di Robson, Producer, Di Robson Events and Arts Management (DREAM)

“Students and professional performers interested in the basics of assembling a modern circus show will find no better guide than the new book How to Create a Contemporary Circus Show.

From budgeting to overseeing team efforts, Bates covers all aspects of organizing a circus, using the experiences of his team and their successes and pitfalls to identify common areas of challenge involved in crafting a successful show…. How to Create a Contemporary Circus Show may focus on the circus’s unique environment and requirements, but its wide-ranging production experiences, illustrations, exercises, and formulas for success makes it a top recommendation not just for circus reference libraries, but any performing arts collection, and for those who would put together a winning production.” (full review)

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“This book is an invaluable contribution to the development of contemporary circus.  It gives shape and structure to a process that, to most emerging circus artists, feels impossibly amorphous at the beginning.  Circus needs to be an ecosystem, and right now the components of it (artists, schools, residency spaces, funders, presenters, directors, etc.) are not well-connected in the U.S.; this book is a step towards helping us all to find each other.  A beautiful resource for those of us who are determined to move contemporary circus forward.”
Shana Kennedy, Executive Director, Circadium: School of Contemporary Circus
“What Emerson’s ‘Nature’ did to amplify our respect and understanding of the environment Mr. Bates has done for our appreciation of modern circus. Contemporary Circus Handbook should be carried in every steamer truck, backpack, valise or suitcase by anyone who stands, flies, dances, juggles or entertains others. Mr Bates’ treatment of show, artists, collaborators and all who come together to make the magic of circus is exceptionally thorough and replete with terrific interviews, intimate insights that serve as an instructional voice for the joys, cautions, hard work and celebration of performance. Contemporary Circus Handbook will become the definitive statement for anyone thinking about launching performance arts … or even running away to join the circus. Hats off Mr. Bates​ and company!”
Kevin Weafer, Amazon Review
“As a new director/producer this book gave me all the tools I feel I need to create and produce shows! It was super well organized, easy to understand and broke down all the concepts to be implemented in production. I loved how genuine Bate’s writing is, and how he talked about what went well and what didn’t. There are so few resources for circus artists out there and having a guide to help me through the process is invaluable. So thankful this book exists and 100% recommend it for any artist interested in show creation!”
Meghan McClure, Amazon Review

Big News!

Coming July 5th, 2024:

The Contemporary Circus Handbook: eBook edition!

#1 New Release: Performing Arts Reference!

Within a day of its release, The Contemporary Circus Handbook made #1 on Amazon’s list of Performing Arts Reference books!

#1 New Release: Circus & Performing Arts!

Within a day of its release, The Contemporary Circus Handbook made #1 on Amazon’s list of Circus & Performing Arts books!