One woman caught mid leap and another on mat with large ball
April 19, Calendar, Circus, Performing arts

Circus: CATCH!

18, 23 & 24 April @ Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre ·
27& 28 @ Fairbridge Festival ·
Presented by MAXIMA Circus and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre ·

A can-do fun filled show suitable for all ages. Combining circus, puppetry & dance with a whole bunch of bouncing balls!!

More info
W: www.manpac.com.au/catch
E:  steamworks@iinet.net.au

Pictured:
Jessica Smart & Yvan Karlsson – CATCH! – Credit: Simon Pynt

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A group of circus performers manipulating a large sheet of plastic
Circus, Fringe World, News, Reviews

Tackling plastic through acrobatics

Kinetica, 450 Years ·
Big Top at The Woodside Pleasure Garden, 13 February ·
Review by Robert Housley ·

Some scary numbers are linked to the incredible amount of time it takes for plastic to break down in the environment.

Perth circus school Kinetica has chosen 450 Years for the title of its 2019 Fringe World show to emphasise the point. It is an estimation of the time it takes for a plastic cup, or bottle (depending on your source), to decompose.

It’s a sobering figure, as is the disturbing claim in the show blurb that “two million plastic bags are used worldwide every minute”.

In 450 Years, Kinetica “imagines a future world where plastic pollution has taken over and rules our everyday existence”.

Consequently, myriad forms of plastic appear throughout the work,  as props, costumes, hair ties, belts and environmental debris. The 10-member troupe – two males and eight females – navigate the challenges of working with the material, which is either integral to, or in the midst of, its 10-plus routines.

Playfulness and humour are also integrated into several of the acts, starting with an acrobatic routine in which plastic bags are juggled while an animated male performer dances to the first of many upbeat tunes.

The hula hoop features in another routine, with the apparatus utilised in perpetual motion whilst a female performer creatively manoeuvres it in and out of all four limbs. Her single foot work while upside-down is gravity-defying. The entire troupe emerges from backstage at the conclusion of her solo, to form a conga line with hula hoops that culminates in a visually stunning human pyramid.

A “bottle-crushing” contortionist shows us how to reduce the size of plastic bottles using numerous body parts while balancing atop a 1.5m wooden table… not a level of versatility required when recycling them at home.

The larger part of the show is dedicated to aerial acts, though a few too many for the overall balance of the 50-minute work. Different airborne apparatus – a corner-hung large cube, silks, a lyra (suspended hoop), straps and a net – ensure, however, that there is sufficient aerial variety to maintain audience attention.

Striking sculptured poses in mid-air is no mean feat, and the standard of these routines is uniformly high.

While environmental awareness is an admirable theme – and there are moments when it is manifest in this work – realising it with circus skills is a challenge that isn’t quite met.

Nonetheless, 450 Years is an accomplished effort.

450 years shows at the Big Top until February 17.

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Circus, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Swinging cowboys

Fringe World review: Head First Acrobats, Railed ·
The West Australian Spiegeltent, February 2 ·
Review by Steven Cohen ·

The circus is in town and shamelessly clowning around in all its slapstick acrobatic glory.

Following the success of their breakthrough performance at last year’s Fringe, Melbourne-based Head First Acrobats return with Railed, this time co-opting the Western genre in a high-octane, frenzied festival of comedy and gymnastics.

But don’t expect the non-abrasive gentility of Cirque du Soleil. Railed is a hyper-cheerful, puerile comedic performance. Combining clown gags with highly specialist acrobatic skills, Callan Harris, Thomas Gorham, Adam O’Connor-McMahon and Harley Timmermans take us on a gay-themed journey, from bank heists to shoots out and everything in between.

The homo-erotic humour is important.  It subverts the show, providing a sentimental education. But unlike the novel of the same name, Railed is upbeat and wholly unironic, lampooning queer culture with silent one-liners spread across a quadrant formed by four men zinged high up in acrobatic manoeuvres. Combined with the character acting, the show was highly entertaining, whipping the full  full house into a frenzy.

Timmermans and O’Connor-McMahon provided the comic relief with an uncouth yet hilarious portrayal of a unicorn pleasuring a horse.  The charismatic and charming Harris gave a stand-out performance, balancing uncannily upon a stack of chairs, whilst Thomas seemingly suspended gravity in his Cyr wheel.

The soundtrack to this off-off-Western was co-opted perfectly, creating peak emotional mood and sensory impact.

The only drawback to the show was that it was sold out! The venue, while cute and circusy, was not large enough to hold the thousand or so patrons on a hot summer’s night.

But don’t let that detract: the circus boys were a delight, inducing visceral thrills and belly laughs aplenty.  Highly recommended.

Railed is playing at The West Australian Spiegeltent until February 10.

Caption top: Blazing acrobats – Head First pack out the Spiegeltent.

Photograph: Naomi Reed Photography

 

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Circus, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Bright young performers delight

Fringe World review: CircusWA – Sliders Youth Troupe, Cutting Teeth ·
The Big Top at The Woodside Pleasure Garden, 31 January ·
Review by Claire Trolio ·

Your late teens and early twenties are a massive time for self-discovery. Just as you have successfully negotiated high school, the whole world is waiting to confound you once again. It may be tumultuous but, simultaneously, it’s a wonderful, free time. This time of life is the subject of CircusWA’s Fringe World show Cutting Teeth, directed by Natano Fa’anana and Rachel Bodenstaff.

The CircusWA school teaches circus skills to children and young adults, and Cutting Teeth is presented by Sliders Youth Troupe, a group of 16-22 year olds who make up the performance arm of the school. The Sliders program is aimed at developing skills and providing a stepping stone to further circus training or performing on the professional circuit. As teenagers and young adults, the themes of Cutting Teeth are very relevant to the young performers themselves.

And the craft of circus lends itself well to a coming of age theme. A juggling act represents juggling the pressures of home, school and friends. Floor and balancing acts both explore young relationships. Struggles on the trapeze reflect the competitive elements of school and entering the workforce. This double act by two young women competing for top spot on the trapeze was a highlight of the show, displaying the pair’s excellent technical skills as well as performance ability. A powerful aerial silks performance and a compelling solo trapeze act also stood out.

Sliders is an amateur troupe, so it’s no surprise that the show doesn’t have a professional polish. Yet the young performers met unexpected hiccups with sophistication beyond their years. There is some filler, but the overall package that Cutting Teeth delivers garners respect and admiration. Each of these performers has a bright future in performance ahead of them, if they choose to follow that path.

Cutting Teeth is an enjoyable hour that’s completely family friendly. Children will delight in seeing other young people on stage and all will appreciate the strength and poise of these teenagers and young adults.

Cutting Teeth plays the Big Top at The Woodside Pleasure Garden until February 3.

Read Seesaw’s Q&A with the directors of the show.

Photography by Jeannette Friesen (2019) @generosity.circus.photography

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Two people sitting on a wooden crate, back to back, having a snack.
Circus, Fringe World, Fringe World Sessions 2019, News, Performing arts

Feats for hands and feet

Perth-born juggler Jeromy Zwick and Finnish tightwire dancer Liisa Näykki are united by their love of circus… and each other. As circus duo Hands Some Feet they bring together their respective specialities alongside acrobatics, physical theatre,  skipping ropes and live music.

Ahead of their 2019 Fringe World season, Seesaw managed to catch Zwick and Näykki with their feet on the ground long enough for a quick Q&A.

A woman standing on a man's shoulders.
Jeromy Zwick & Liisa Näykki. Photo: Michael James.

Seesaw: Tell us about your training…
Jeromy Zwick: We both went to the National Circus School of Belgium in Brussels (E.S.A.C.) where we met each other, although it took another three years before we realised that we had fallen for one another. We completed an amazing yet very tough three-year Bachelor of Circus Arts program there. We didn’t just work with some of the best specialised circus teachers in the world but we were also trained in physical theatre, dance and many other skills, in order for us to graduate as professional circus artists. But we continue to learn something new every day as this job has such variety that goes beyond doing circus and being on stage.

S: Career highlight so far?
JZ: Well, there are many. For us both it would be being able to create our own show (this one) and have total artistic control of our own material, which is so great. We just love being on stage and performing this show.

S: Career lowlight?
JZ: For me  it would have be when I was told that my entire tour with another company had to be cancelled due to an injury within the group and I was suddenly out of work when I thought I would have steady work with them for at least the next three years. Liisa had a similar thing happen to her which just goes to show that an artistic profession can often be very unstable and unpredictable.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
JZ: Waking up in the morning and knowing that we are lucky enough to have fulfilled our dream of becoming professional circus artists. We don’t have to look back one day and think, “If only we took that hard road to really commit to our dream.” Now we can just be so happy that we did and we can start enjoying the benefits of all those years of hard work . Nothing beats the joy and pure pleasure of being on stage in front of an audience. The equal giving and receiving between the performer and the audience member is such a magical thing.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
JZ: We once performed at a Finnish porridge party (yep, you read that right, a party with porridge). It’s like a pre-Christmas party where they serve a giant pot of rice porridge. Just after our performance Santa Claus made his appearance from Lapland.

S: You performed at Fringe World last year too. What drew you back?
JZ: Our first Fringe World experience was such a welcoming and heart-warming one that there was no question in our minds at all, when presented with the opportunity, that we would return with our updated and re-worked show.

S: Tell us about Hands Some Feet’s 2019 show 
JZ: Our show is a fresh, quirky and energetic contemporary circus show powered completely by our passion to create together. We combine our two specialised circus techniques of tightwire and juggling, hence the name “Hands some Feet” me being the hands as a juggler and Liisa being the feet as a tightwire dancer. The word “some” describes all that other “meat around the bones” making the show rich and full with pair acrobatics, physical theatre, skipping ropes and live music.

One of the biggest inspirations for the show comes from a special word found only in the Finnish language: Hepuli. Hepuli means to have a negative or positive burst of emotion, the kind that even the most civilised great ape cannot withstand. In our show we deliver a universal interpretation of young couples under the spell of hepuli.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
JZ: As I am a Perth boy, I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends during the time at Fringe, as most of them are also circus artists. It’s such a nice opportunity for many of us to return from all the four corners of the globe, find ourselves back together in Perth, watch each other perform and see how we’ve all developed as individual artists.

S:What is your favourite part of the playground
JZ: I do love a good swing from time to time, and I have a really strong urge to jump on any swing I pass by. I guess I’m held back by the fact that I’m an adult now, although to be honest that doesn’t usually stop me.
LN: I’ve always loved all the climbing parts on playgrounds, climbing frames, monkey bars etc.

Hands Some Feet plays at the Black Flamingo at Yagan Square, February 5 – 17

Pictured top: Liisa Näykki and Jeromy Zwick. Photo: Michael James.

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A man in a kilt with a set of flaming bagpipes
Circus, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Next-level daredevils

Fringe World review: Dream State Entertainment, Fuego Carnal ·
Empyrean, The Ice Cream Factory, 25 January ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

Celebrating the power of the flame, fire is alternately juggled, twirled, thrown, whip-cracked, breathed, grasped and swallowed (and more!) by the international performers of Fuego Carnal.

The stunts in this show seem to offer an extra level of flamboyance over regular sideshow acts – see Aerial Manx backflipping across the stage with a swallowed sword still in his throat, or Orissa Kelly performing sensational contortionist foot archery while her arrows are aflame.

Such hardcore feats are paired with the antics of the personable host Sophie McGrath, the fire-spewing bagpipes of Fremantle local The Badpiper, and some cheeky innuendo-filled cabaret (the success of which depends on the nature of the audience participant – introverts should think twice about sitting in the front row).

The truly nail-biting stunts of knife thrower Alfredo Silva are also not for the faint-hearted, with a distinct sense of relief felt in the Empyrean tent after everyone escaped intact from his increasingly elaborate weapons.

But rest assured, these daredevil acts are performed by seriously skilled professionals – Silva most recently appeared on America’s Got Talent, while Manx achieved the Guinness World Record for “Most backflips whilst swallowing a sword in under one minute” (20 backflips).

A recent winner of the 2019 FRINGE WORLD Circus Weekly Award, the classic circus thrills of Fuego Carnal will prompt you to gasp, clap your hands, and sometimes shield your eyes.

Fuego Carnal plays Empyrean at the Ice Cream Factory until February 17.

Pictured: The Badpiper and his fire-spewing bagpipes in “Fuego Carnal”.

A man setting his arm alight!
Celebrating the power of flame: Aerial Manx. Photo: Trentino.
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Mr Gorski
Children, Circus, Comedy, Fringe World, Magic, News, Performing arts

Catch him if you can!

It may have started with a stutter, but Daniel Gorski’s career looks pretty smooth from this angle. His alter ego, Mr Gørski, has been touring arts festivals around Australia since 2014, with his blend of mime, slapstick, circus and magic, and he’s also known as Jango on ABC Kids’ Hoopla Doopla. He returns to 2019 Fringe World courtesy of Sydney Fringe Festival’s 2018 Perth Tour Ready Award.

In this Q&A, Daniel Gorski spills the beans on a career that began with a speech impediment…

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an entertainer?
Daniel Gorski:  From a very early age! I grew up on the stage. I was put into acting classes at the age of eight because of a debilitating stutter. I learnt to control my breathing, improved my confidence and developed a passion for vaudeville and comedy acts. I have a memory of my first show… skinny little Dan in a cave-man outfit with a papier mâché club saying, “This cave-man he wears skins, lots of muscles on his shins…” I remember doing a double take at my skinny little legs and hearing the laughter from the audience and thinking, “I did that.”

S: Tell us about your training…
DG: I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing international trainers from as far afield as Russia, China, Argentina and Canada, prior to, during and after I attended both Circo-Arts in New Zealand and the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne. Over the three years I spent in formal training I acquired an amazing number of skills including the ability to teach myself.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
DG: I have a saying that the artist needs the Ps: Practice (do it regularly), Patience (it doesn’t happen over night), Persistence (don’t give up) and Pardon yourself (be prepared to be bad at it for a while)… and share your ideas with your friends as you never know who might have a different perspective. Allow for tangents when working on a show – you never know what will come from the creative process.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
DG: I love sharing an experience with the audience, seeing the amazement on people’s faces, making a connection: it’s happening right here and now and it’s magical.

S: Career highlights so far?
DG: I have performed at massive events and had people ignore me, but on the flip side, I’ve performed for three people in a fringe show, had an amazing experience and connected with the audience. In 2018 I had the privilege to work with the Clown Doctors, connecting and sharing some amazing moments with kids, parents and the staff on a very different level.

S: Career lowlight?
DG:  I was working in a cabaret show, my last act of the night and I felt on top of my game! I took my bow, stepped off the stage immediately rolled my ankle. My leg crumpled beneath me and I literally fell out of the spotlight and hobbled back stage.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
DG:  I was working for CIRCA in Brisbane performing in a show called 31 Circus Acts in 30 Minutes. It’s as simple as it sounds, such a fun show. In an acrobatic sequence I tore my pants right down the middle of crotch. I stopped the show and asked the audience if they’d mind allowing me the chance to change because it would be a little more difficult than usual to continue. The audience’s reaction was fantastic – they were laughing and cheering, then together they chorused as one with a comedic NOOO! So I had to continue the show with my knees together.

S: This isn’t your first appearance at Fringe World – what drew you back?
DG: I won a Sydney Fringe Festival award in 2018 that guaranteed me a spot in Fringe World this year, so I am pretty excited to come back.

S: Tell us about your Fringe World show, Mr Gørski!
DG:  Mr.Gørski is deemed dangerously entertaining, he’s almost caught! The show is about overcoming your inner demons, and about questioning the overwhelming voice of authority at a time when sometimes what you are told to believe and what is right in front of you don’t quite match up.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
DG: I have a six year old niece and we spent quality time together over the New Year holiday. We are like two peas in pod. This visit we sat in a big circular swing reading each other silly jokes for hour, laughing until our faces hurt.

You can catch Mr Gørski at the Big Top at the Woodside Pleasure Garden from 27 January to 3 February at the child-friendly time of 4pm.

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2 comedians in garbage bins , one leapfrogging
Calendar, Children, Circus, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Children: Circus: Trash Test Dummies

18 Jan- 3 Feb @ Big Top @ The Woodside Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Dummies Corp ·

Everyone put your bins out, tonight’s bin night and the Trash Test Dummies are on duty! This award winning, sidesplitting, slapstick comedy, circus routine takes the household wheelie bin to new heights, and delivers a dump-truck full of hilarity!

“Dungeree’d Dummies from down under create an adventure playground out of dustbins.” The Herald Scotland ★★★★

More info
W: https://www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/trash-test-dummies-fw2019
E:  producer@dummiescorp.com

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Circus, Features, Fringe World, News, Performing arts

The ageless craft of circus

Rachel Bodenstaff of CircusWA and Natano Fa’anana of Casus Circus have joined forces and talent to create Cutting Teeth for CircusWA’s Sliders Youth Circus.  Described as ‘a whimsical and fun look at the crossroad of youth and adulthood… a story of coming of age told through the ageless craft of circus’, Cutting Teeth will be performed by circus artists between the ages of 15 and 22.

Ahead of the work’s two Fringe World seasons, Seesaw caught up with Bodenstaff and Fa’anana.

Rachel Bodenstaff

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an performer?
Rachel Bodenstaff: I was a “performer” from an early age, putting on shows for my family and getting my parents to film them. Although it was probably through performing at circus school that I realised I wanted to perform/work with artists.

Natano Fa’anana

Natano Fa’anana: I was a pretty late starter. I literally ran away with the circus at the age of 30. I had watched my brothers perform dance and circus but only tried my hand at circus at the age of 29. After that I was obsessed

S: Tell us about your training… 
RB: Most of my training has been “on the job”, but I have had the opportunity to train overseas and interstate for short periods of time.

NF: I like to say I am “backyard trained”. I had some community circus training in the early days but I couldn’t afford to do all the classes so I would train my aerials silks in a tree. In Brisbane I would see someone with skills I admired and that person would teach them to me. So I had no formal training, just informal fun learning.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
RB: My role is predominantly directing and mentoring young people, creating shows and performance opportunities for the younger generation of artists.

NF: I’m a big advocate for culture and substance in circus. I’m cut from a significantly sturdy yet fabulous cloth. My beginnings were Polytoxic, a six-strong collective which fused Pacific and Australian culture. Then Briefs Factory, which is an all male political, satire high octane cabaret. Currently I am co-director of Casus Circus (Knee Deep, Driftwood, Chasing Smoke). All creations have social commentary, high circus skill and culture.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
RB: I love to watch a show evolve. I love seeing it progress from a concept or idea into a full show. It is also pretty inspiring to see young performers develop as artists. I have had the opportunity to watch many of the young artists I work with grow from children to adults which is special in itself.

NF: So many things. As you know, I am currently working with Rachel and Sliders Youth Circus on Cutting Teeth. I enjoy passing my knowledge onto the next generation of circus artists.

I’ve known Rachel since our early days in our circus stories and we have supported each others careers over the last 10 years. Now together we are creating a show which is a joy. We bounce off each other and guide the young performers, creating a show that is both enjoyable in the making and hopefully on stage.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
RB: Too many!! Working with this crew I am in stitches most days!

NF: So so many. I once went out on stage without my pants on. I was supposed to wear them under my lava lava (a sarong). In this act I would walk out, stand proud and strong under a spot light and remove my lava lava. Mid-reveal I realised I wasn’t wearing any pants and sheepishly had to scurry back through the curtain to find my bottoms.

S: What made you decide to present work at Fringe World this year?
RB: It’s a fabulous opportunity to highlight what CircusWA has to offer and such a wonderful opportunity for this young crew. They are all so excited about performing our new show as part of the Fringe line-up!

NF: Cutting Teeth. I’ve been working with Rachel and Sliders Youth Circus sporadically over the last six months so it’s time to continue and then premiere!

Tell us about Cutting Teeth!
RB: Our show is about youth experience. It is a representation of the challenges, joy and journeys on which young people embark. It features some of WA’s up and coming artists with mad skills!

NF: Cutting Teeth explores that intersection in life that most young people face: leaving school, parting ways with friends, illnesses that influence life choices, influences from peers, family and friends. These themes are showcased through the lens of contemporary circus. You will see a four person rope act, a juggling act with costume changes, double trapeze, duo acro and something called puppy hammer.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
RB: Fringe is not only a fabulously inspiring time but it is a time to catch up with interstate and international artists. The circus community is very close knit and it really is an opportunity to hang out, catch up and support each other.

NF: Apart from Cutting Teeth I can recommend, Club Briefs, Trash Test Dummies, Djuki Mala, Lovefool, Only Bones V01, Phat Cab Club, Yuck Circus and Laser Kiwi. These are mates and loads of fun.

S: What’s your favourite part of the playground?
RB: No brainer – monkey bars.
NF: Merry-Go-Rounds. But you have to go super fast with a drink in your hand.

Cutting Teeth plays at The Freo Big Top 24 – 25 January and at The Big Top at  The Woodside Pleasure Garden 31 January – 3 February.

Pictured top are cast members from “Cutting Teeth”.

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Syncope
Calendar, Circus, Fringe World, Performing arts

Circus: Syncope

7 – 9 February @ St George’s Cathedral ·
Presented by Kinetica ·

A pause; a failure of a heart’s action; unconsciousness… From the winners of the 2017 Fringe World Circus Award and nominated for the prestigious 2018 Fringe World Martin Sims Award, Syncope explores the anatomy and physiology of the human body and consciousness through an intriguing cocktail of aerials, acrobatics and performance art. How do we know that we’re awake? How do emotions affect our body? A visceral experience that is as thought-provoking as it is heart-stopping.

This show sold out in 2018, so book now for this unmissable and critically acclaimed event performed within the stunning Gothic architecture of St George’s Cathedral.

More info:
www.facebook.com/StGeorgesDanceAndTheatre/

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