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The Cnac is a Higher Education institution for training, resources and research, created in 1985 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. Its graduate school was one of the first to open up high level circus arts training to a broader public.

The Cnac very soon incorporated its teaching project into the ‘nouveau cirque’ movement. The training it provides is of an uncompromisingly high standard as regards technical learning and command of the vocabulary specific to each circus discipline, in order to make a positive contribution to the renewal of circus arts and contemporary creation.

Since 2013, the Cnac has been considerably expanding its "Lifelong Learning" programme and its Research unit.

Curriculum offered


A three-year diploma course which evolves: DNSP-AC (bac + 3) and soon a joint-Bachelor "Performing Arts" and "Staps"

The curriculum of the CNAC combines specialized teaching, for the most part, group lessons in dance, drama, general culture, as well as artistic research workshops and research / innovation projects. in artistic, educational or technical aspects.

The school strives to train the best circus performers of tomorrow, and even to reveal future authors.

Historical past have long linked the CNAC to the ENACR of Rosny-sous-Bois with in particular their reunified course in 2014 (upper preparatory year and 1st year of the course at ENACR, 2nd and 3rd years at the CNAC which awards the diploma).

After extensive work related to the new accreditation procedure for higher education training in the circus arts, the three-year DNSP course will be fully organized from the start of the 2020 school year at the CNAC in Châlons-en-Champagne. The new promotion recruited in spring 2020 is therefore the first to complete its entire course at the CNAC (Dnsp 1, 2 and 3 followed by a year devoted to the professional integration of young outgoing artists), and to be followed by the same teaching team.

From 2023, the CNAC course will be sanctioned - subject to students meeting the award criteria - by:

  • the National Higher Professional Diploma of Circus Artist (Dnsp-AC, level II diploma from the Ministry of Culture),
  • a double Bachelor in "Performing Arts" and STAPS (sciences and techniques of physical and sporting activities) delivered by the University of Reims-Champagne-Ardenne (URCA).


As a National Center and state operator, the CNAC has for mission to offer to the professional circus arts sector and, more broadly, to the performing arts, a continuum between initial training and professional life, now called Lifelong learning (lifelong learning in the European scheme).

Since 2013, the CNAC has considerably enriched its training and service offering to promote the development, updating or improvement of skills and knowledge, obtain a qualification, build a professional project (artistic, technical, educational, etc.), support a retraining, or to validate professional knowledge.

Its annual program, regularly updated, focuses on several areas:

  • transversal and innovative artistic training, - qualifying technical training in the field of security,
  • certifying training courses such as the certificate in analysis and experimentation techniques in circus dramaturgy (currently being certified in the specific repertoire of France competences), - training of trainers,
  • training for artistic and cultural education, training for national education stakeholders,
  • tailor-made training, in France and internationally,
  • master classes, - training for the State diploma of circus teacher in a joint organization with ENACR Rosny-sous-Bois and the Académie Fratellini, - validation of prior experience (VAE) for two diplomas national: State diploma of circus teacher (DE circus, level III), and national higher professional diploma of circus artist (DNSP-AC, level II)
  • validations of prior experience (VAE) for two certifications: circus technician certification course and professional qualification certificate Hooker - Rigger.

To complement the existing training offer, the CNAC is creating professional certifications in various fields. It empowers and supports training organizations for the implementation of training courses preparing for these certifications, such as:

  • techniques and interpretation of equestrian arts,
  • creation of equestrian shows,
  • techniques and interpretation of the arts of the big wheel.

Info and registration on application form with the FTLV service:

The CNAC has a resource and research center, a pole associated with the National Library of France / BnF, which houses a very rich fund on the circus arts and, more generally, on live performance.

Through its Research and Innovation activity, which has been booming since 2013, the CNAC is initiating an open dialogue with pedagogies, an activity with which the Resource Center is developing close collaboration by producing documentary and audiovisual resources on some of its work.

The Research activity targets several transdisciplinary axes:

  • development of innovative projects on and through circus practices,
  • building of bridges and exchanges with higher art education institutions and several universities, at national and international level,
  • creation of educational devices for academic and on-track experimentation,
  • organization of study days, seminars and meetings-conferences,
  • collaboration in workshops, laboratories,
  • residency and promotion of academic research on the circus arts with, in particular, the reception of researchers.

The projects that the CNAC develops or supports are always directly linked to circus practice and creation. To this end, it has implemented:

  • the Cirque et Marionnette / ICiMa Innovation Chair in partnership with the International Puppetry Institute:,
  • and the Circus Arts Research Platform / CARP dedicated to scientific research in circus arts:, in collaboration with the ICiMa chair, ENC (Montreal, CA) Circuscentrum (Gent-BE), Circusinfo Finland (Helsinki-FI), DOCH (Stockholm SE), Unicamp (BR) and many international researchers.
  • Application by file to be downloaded from January on our website and returned before March 1 with a video (7 minutes maximum) of the candidate practicing his apparatus.
  • Then preselections and selections at the beginning of May.
  • Communication of the results at the end of the competition.


  • bachelor's degree or equivalent, acrobatic level, mastery of a specialty, artistic disposition, level in dance and acting.

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