Marija Baranauskaitė (b. 1990), one of the first professional contemporary circus creators in Lithuania, started her career on stage as a contemporary dance performer and later studied circus abroad. In 2013, she graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre with a Bachelor’s degree in contemporary dance. In 2015–2016, she studied at the École LASSAAD International School of Theatre in Brussels, Belgium. In 2018, she graduated from the Philippe Gaulier theatre school in Paris.
In 2012, Baranauskaitė joined the organisation RED NOSES Clowndoctors as an actress and lecturer and between 2018–2020 worked as its artistic director. In 2018, with her colleagues she co-founded the Contemporary Circus Association and is a member of its board. Baranauskaitė teaches at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Baranauskaitė has created or collaborated on a dozen dance, theatre and circus performances and compositions, and participated as a dancer and circus performer in more than three dozen dance, circus and other performances.
The latest performance created by Baranauskaitė in Lithuania is Sofos projektas (Sofa Project, 2019). This performance attempts to get closer to inanimate nature. Having heard about a performance for dogs and cats created by her colleagues, the young clowning performer decided to go one step further and create a performance for objects. The content of the Sofa Project is unusual not only for the circus but also for theatre or dance pieces. Here, most of the time, viewers don’t have to watch the action but pretend they don’t exist, or more accurately, embody the couch. After all, Baranauskaitė’s work has not been created for people but sofas. In the Sofa Project, Baranauskaitė combines clowning, a critical approach to contemporary art and self-reflection. Comparing herself to a sofa, the performer presents a sweetly ironic picture of a modern person/artist, and by making all viewers engaged in the performance, willingly or not, she gains positive reactions from the audience.