dance/circus performers
Calendar, Circus, February 2020, March 2020, Performing arts, Perth Festival

Perth Festival: Leviathan by Circa

26 Feb – 1 Mar @ Regal Theatre ·
Presented by Perth Festival  ·

Circa’s internationally-renowned ensemble joins with a local cast of circus performers, dancers and young people for a world premiere circus event.

The art of circus is taken in an exciting new direction as 36 performers hang from a grid suspended in the air and propel themselves across the stage, tumbling, balancing and soaring together. The dramatic power and extreme skill of Circa’s trademark acrobatics thrillingly expose the tension between the mass and the individual in an epic theatrical event that is both deeply moving and physically stunning.

In these complex times, Leviathan offers hope by celebrating what can be achieved when we  work together. This action-packed show connects the local with the global and the emerging with the visionary for powerful new circus production that genuinely pushes boundaries.

Presented in collaboration with Circa, Co3 Australia, Circus Maxima and CircusWA.

More info:
W: www.perthfestival.com.au/event/leviathan
E:  festival@perthfestival.com.au

Pictured: Circa, credit: Damien Bredberg

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Circus, News, Performing arts, Reviews

In precarious hands

Review: Circus Oz, Precarious ·
His Majesty’s Theatre, 25 July·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

Of all the performing arts, the circus performer has perhaps the toughest gig. I mean, sure, in terms of job pride, I imagine there’s little that’s more satisfying than being able to say you’re “in the circus”. But pause and consider – you have an audience demanding to be constantly wowed from whoa to go; an exceptionally broad audience that demands a blistering pace to keep all comers entertained; and then there’s the sheer physical demands of the job. It’s fabulous, but it’s also bloody tough.

I was reminded of this on the opening night of Circus Oz’s, Precarious, playing at His Majesty’s until July 28. Precarious begins with a whimper rather than the customary bang we’re used to encountering when experiencing contemporary circus. Set in a polar landscape, the players arrange a series of blocks upon which they execute a series of surprisingly slow movements. The poses are largely static, players arranging their bodies into different shapes. A screen separating the audience from the action eventually lifts and the tempo simultaneously increases but then slows again with a complex aerial routine. The techniques are undoubtedly well honed, but I was sorely conscious of the lack of pace… unfairly perhaps, I was waiting to be wowed.

Would I have had the same expectation when seeing a play? No. Dance? No. Live music? No. But while recognising the unfairness of my demands as an audience member, my disappointment keep nagging. It was twenty minutes into a 70-minute show, and despite the artistry on display, despite the obvious mastery of technique, I was yet to gasp. There was an incredibly skilled balancing act upon sheets of perspex… but because those sheets were on the floor, these talented manoeuvres did not elicit the response from the crowd that they should have. Similarly, two aerial routines, while vivid demonstrations of the strength and finesse of the two male performers, lacked the unexpected edge of surprise that audiences expect from circus.

But hurrah! The gasps did come, 30 minutes in, and when they did, they did not cease. A routine that combined aerial movement with floorwork was seriously astounding, as players swished down a central pole, stopping within inches of players curled beneath them. Adam Malone was completely jaw-dropping with his mastery of the hoops – eight lime green rings that had an uncanny ability to stick to his nose, foot, head. My ten-year-old companion had his mouth agape for the entire routine.

But, just as we were on the edge of our seats, another mis-step. This time in the form of a faux-vaudeville routine of a polar bear vomiting. I’m a big fan of humour revolving around bodily functions, but this was strangely unfunny and twice as long as it should have been. Fortunately this same polar bear (if I’m not mistaken) was given a chance to display her true skills shortly after with a remarkable routine in which she twirled, juggled and balanced an umbrella on her feet. The show ended on a high, showcasing the incredible trapeze skills Circus Oz is rightfully famous for.

Circus Oz makes a specialty of combining artforms – Precarious was not just circus, it also featured vaudeville, comedy and live music. The mixing of these mediums sound like it would make for a packed hour, but strangely with Precarious the end result felt scattershot and unfocused, as though the show could not decide quite what it was. One could imagine a more streamlined performance that highlighted the real strengths of the group – the hoops; the trapeze; the foot juggling; the aerials – while happily scrapping the extraneous comedy and musical accompaniment (which at times threatened to overshadow the main event). Pared down and paced up, the audience would feel in less Precarious hands.

Precarious plays until July 28.

Pictured top: Aurora Jillibalu Riley, Karina Schiller, Sam Aldham, Spenser Inwood, Adam Malone, Photo: Rob Blackburn.

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Five acrobats posing
Calendar, Circus, July 19, Performing arts

Circus: Circus Oz – Precarious

25 – 28 July @ His Majesty’s Theatre ·
Presented by His Majesty’s Theatre ·

Precarious takes us on a journey through an intriguing world, there are remnants of our icy past but this future reality is anything but. Inhabitants navigate this unknown world guided by their surroundings and their own ingenuity.

Precarious unfolds through an ingenuous maze of phenomenal acrobatics, spectacular aerials, live music and physical comedy. The unique skills and talents of the Circus Oz ensemble include extraordinary foot juggling, jaw-dropping aerial straps and trapeze, mesmerising handstands, pole, and hula hoop, all hilariously woven with original music from the Circus Oz live band.

This 70-minute non-stop spectacle of acrobatic mayhem is for audiences of all ages.

Thursday 25 July at 7.30pm
Friday 26 July at 11.00am (Schools show)  & 7.30pm
Saturday 27 July at 1.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 28 July at 1:30pm

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/his-majestys-theatre/whats-on/circus-oz-precarious/

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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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