12 Apr 2023

Anna Beentjes & Isabel Joly: International education can be a circus!

Anna Beentjes & Isabel Joly: International education can be a circus!


The European higher education sector is a diverse, inspiring and collaborative field where we can learn and discover new things every day. In this EAIE podcast episode, we invite the listener into the wondrous world of Circus Arts education, where students train to become (international) professional circus artists. Although these performing arts programmes are often considered unique, there are various similarities with 'regular' higher education programmes and the willingness to overcome the same challenges.

What defines success for these types of institutions and organisations in terms of serving students and advancing the circus education agenda? What about international experiences for students and staff? What impact do issues such as climate change, equality and injustice have within the sector and how are they addressed? In this episode, we talk to Anna Beentjes, Head of the Bachelor programme Circus Arts at Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam, and Isabel Joly, Director of FEDEC (the international network for professional circus education known as the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools). Tune in to learn more about this creative, collaborative corner of the international HE field!

About Anna Beentjes

Anna Beentjes is Head of the Bachelor programme ‘Circus Arts’ at Codarts University for the Arts, Rotterdam. She is also vice-president of FEDEC (the international network for professional circus education) and the chair of circus company Monki Business. Anna graduated with a master in Spanish Language and Literature after studies at the University of Groningen and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. In the past, she has worked as a translator, book seller, executive producer for various dance, theater and music productions with international tours, and was Director for the Performing Arts at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

About Isabel Joly

Isabel Joly is the Director of FEDEC, the international network for professional circus education. After completing a Master's degree in communication at the University of Lille, Isabel joined the European Commission in the Directorate General for Education and Culture (EAC), and this immersion in cultural issues at the European level gave her professional life a decisive direction. Since January 2018, Isabel has answered the call of FEDEC where she shares her passion for arts education with nearly 80 members worldwide, professional schools but also organisations placing circus education at the heart of their project. Passionate about the development of contemporary circus, she is a Board member of the International network Circostrada, (Paris, FR), of the European platform Circusnext (Paris, FR) and the non-profit organisation UP - Circus & Performing Arts (Brussels, BE).

Additional resources

For further insights into the topics touched on in this episode, the following resources may be of interest:

→ FEDEC’s EU project SPEAK OUT

→ Clowning around: relieving stress at the international office

→ Karol Vieker & Malaika Marable Serrano: Let’s talk about discrimination