Michael Zandl


Michael Zandl (1989) is an Austrian circus artist. Michael is interested in exceeding common circus references. He likes to work with ‘real’ objects that are not commonly associated with circus. At his shows technical intricacies and special effects are at a rendezvous. Putting circus technique into fresh context is difficult, so by using objects as points of departure to explore vocabularies, Michael manipulates them in order to tell a story. He works by creating specific scenes and developing a language through these very objects.

Michael grew up in a small village in the Austrian Alps and was introduced to acrobatics and movement through exploring a variety of outdoor sports. During his studies in Agricultural Sciences in Vienna, Michael took his first steps on stage and created his first show together with a hopelessly optimistic group of circus people with hardly any stage experience. Michael decided to pursue his love for circus and studied at Codarts Circus Arts in Rotterdam. He was awarded the Marc Jonkers Prijs for his graduation show and joined Korzo as an in-house maker in 2020.

Storytelling in the art of circus is less seen nowaday, and by working with illusions and live, non-recreatable experiences, he seeks to bring the audience into another world. Michael likes to work with the absurd in combination with abstraction and subtle humor. He finds these tools a powerful source of expression.

The complexities of his chosen professional field push Michael to be very resourceful in his craft. Building the scenography and props by himself is a full-fledged part of his creative process. Understanding the technical needs and specifics of the work is intertwined with the creative development of the pieces. The past few years Michael created two shows – JANUS and Sawdust Symphony – both which received widespread acclaim.

He invested almost everything he has in JANUS, which marked his first solo performance. This work is a unique combination of physical story-telling, illusion theatre and object manipulation: a portrayal of what he likes most in circus. JANUS turned out to be a great success and is still touring throughout Europe. Michael’s first work as a Korzo-maker is Sawdust Symphony, a performance that premiered in 2021. This work – a collaboration with David Eisele and Kolja Huneck – revolves around craftsmanship and the human desire to create. With Sawdust Symphony, Michael toured The Netherlands extensively to widespread acclaim. Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant called the show ‘a sublime example of how visual, enchanting and meaningful contemporary circus theatre can be’. Currently, Michael is working on brand new projects


Michael's projects


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