Larissa Afanasieva

Artistic Manager and Director, Upsala Circus.
In 2000, in cooperation with Astrid Schorn, Larisa Afanasyeva founded Upsala Circus, a socio-cultural organization for at-risk children and adolescents. Since 2008, Larisa Afanasyeva has been Artistic Manager and Director of ANPO Upsala Circus (Autonomous Non-Profit Organization of Social and Cultural Services Upsala Circus). The mission of Upsala Circus is to educate through culture, developing the creative and productive potential of every human being. We have been working on promoting the new circus culture that focuses on working with at-risk children and children with special developmental needs, using the circus pedagogy methodology.
In 1992 she graduated from the Eastern Siberian State Academy of Arts with a major in Puppet Theatre, then studied at Saint Petersburg State Theatre Academy. Since 1995 she served as complementary education teacher at Correctional School No. 25. Completed an internship with Cabuwazi Circus for at-risk children and youth (Berlin, Germany, 2002) and Ramba Zamba Theatre for the Developmentally Challenged (Berlin, Germany, 2005). Larisa Afanasyeva has successful experience working with children who have Down syndrome: “Boniface” (a circus performance with mixed cast), “The Nephew” (two parts in the performance are played by actors with Down syndrome), and “Pirosmani’s Dreams”. “The Nephew” was shown in 15 cities of Russia as part of the “Power of Dreams” tour in 2014–2015, as well as in four European countries (Germany, the UK, France and Luxembourg). “Boniface” was shown in “Let’s Do it Together!” Festival in Novyi Urengoy in 2016, and toured Georgia. It was also shown at “The Other Art” international Festival in Pskov (2017), and the Special Theatre Festival, organized by Ray’s Union in Aspindza (Georgia). From the very start of its activities Upsala Circus has toured European countries (Germany, Poland, Finland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, the UK and Belgium) and participated in international circus and theatre festivals. As part of its “Power of Dreams” Russian tour, the circus visited 15 Russian cities with its performance entitled “The Nephew”. During this tour the troupe also held circus workshops for organizations working with children. In 2017 their show, “The Ping Pong Ball Effect”, took part in the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh (Scotland). Larisa Afanasyeva pays special attention to the team of professionals who work on her programs. She has invited to her circus shows such renowned creative professionals as composer Dmitry Maksimachyov, artist Aleksandr Voitsekhovsky, stage designer Nik Khamov, Serebryanaya Svadba Cabaret Band, lighting designer Yana Boitsova, puppet designer Kira Kamalidinova, and others. This undoubtedly helps create a unique creative environment and make top quality productions allowing children and adolescents to uncover their creative potential. Residence in Georgia “Pirosmani’s Children” (in cooperation with Ray Union Association), residence in “Rebels for Peace” in Zeiz (Germany), residence in Nikola-Lenivets (Kaluga Region, Russia). Since 2013 Larisa Afanasyeva has participated in the work of the section “New Circus and Street Theatre” under the leadership of Slava Polunin (since 2015 as the moderator of the Social Circus subsection). This project resulted in the idea of a social and cultural project becoming a professional one.