International Festival of New Circus and Theatre

For fifteen years Letní Letná has been setting the trends of contemporary circus in Czechia. It has become an inseparable part of the Czech and European map of cultural events.

Since the very beginning the festival has been introducing the crème de la crème of the international contemporary circus. Furthermore, it tirelessly develops the local scene and helps many troupes enter the world „chapiteau“.

Contemporary circus

Contemporary circus is an independent young genre that originating in the 1970s in France. It is also known as the “new” circus in comparison to the traditional circuses of the past. There are significant aesthetic differences between performances of traditional circus families and contemporary circus shows.

A visitor coming to a contemporary show will attend a performance challenging boundaries of artistic and physical expression, mixing organically acrobatics with juggling, contemporary dance, physical theatre, music and rhythm. The show is a compact unit carrying a message or a story. It is hence not just a sequence of ostentatious numbers; the excellent technique is a means of artistic expression of the acrobats.

Contemporary circus picks up the threads of traditional circus while putting together several artistic components and adding theatrical dramaturgy and direction. The scenography can be less distinct. Colourful costumes are often replaced by civilian clothes and there are objects of everyday...

About Letni Letna festival

Since its creation Letní Letná has featured 1,662 performances and the total number of visitors has reached 377,000. The program always offers current productions that have not been presented in Czechia and Central Europe. It features elite troupes with big names that have been awarded international prizes. In 2018, Letní Letná introduced, together with the Belgian festival Zomer von Antwerpen, the European premiere of Dans ton Coeur by Akoreacro.

The festival has been intensely working on the development and promotion of the contemporary circus scene and it organizes and supports get-togethers of experts and artists with the public. In this context, Cirkforum was organized in 2016. This conference was an occasion for the experts, for the public and for international guests to learn about Czech contemporary circus groups and to discover organisations that use contemporary circus as a teaching method. As the event was successful, Letní Letná decided to organize another conference in...

Letní Letná 2019

16th
edition
19
days
190
shows
60 000
visitors

For the 16th edition of the festival of contemporary circus and theatre Letní Letná developed a magnificent opening. The charming French tight rope walker Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga walked over the Vltava from the Faculty of Law up to Letná hill with no safety harness. Apart from the thousands of people who came to watch her from the riverbanks and bridges nearby while holding their breath, people around the country could follow the show thanks to live broadcasting.

The main focus of the programme were the top-class international troupes. Their performances perfectly illustrated the diversity and artistic span of the contemporary circus. The Canadian Cirque Alfonse presented their humorous and dynamic Tabarnak. A unique group of 17 female artists brought Projet.PDF, which focused on strong women’s topics. The Saison du Cirque by Cirque Aïtal invited the audience to a world where the contemporary circus meets the traditional one. Last but not least, T1J (Théâtre d’Un Jour) presented an unparalleled mix of theatre, acrobatics and singing to create an extremely strong show.

The festival takes pride in being an important platform of the Czech contemporary circus scene and tries to support local troupes and artists. Apart from the well-established ones such as Losers Cirque Company and Cirk La Putyka, a variety of less known Czech groups had the opportunity to perform for the public – Collective Momentum, Holektiv, Bratři v tricku, Squadra Sua, Cink Cink Cirk, VOSTO5 and others. This year again there were the topical evenings Cirksession and Juggling galashow.

When we were starting out, I frankly believed that contemporary circus was beautiful, free-minded, romantic, creative and exciting. I believed that it had a future and that it made sense to let the public know. And I am confident this still applies!

Jiří Turek
Jiří Turek
director and founder of the festival

The Letní Letná festival has celebrated its 15th birthday. Since its creation it has taught Czechs to love circus artists.

Reflex
2018

Prague's Letní Letná festival brings international and Czech acts which inspire the audience to create their own definitions of contemporary circus. And every year, these definitions are challenged.

Radmila Hrdinová
Právo, 2017

Contemporary circus is a widely accessible genre, which makes it an easy starting point. Yet, disregarding the criterion of quality may be equally harmful in this field as in any other. Looking back at the thirteen editions of Letní Letná, there is no single item that wouldn’t reach the quality bar. A unique phenomenon, indeed.

Jana Machalická
Lidové noviny, 2016
EFFE

Since 2015 Letní Letná has held the EFFE label – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. The label was created by European Festivals Association. In total 23 Czech festivals received it in 2019.