Youth Circus in Australia: Manifesto 2014-2020

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Youth Circus in Australia:

A manifesto for the development of the Australian Youth Circus Sector 2014 – 2020

FRONT PAGE - PHOT O CREDIT: Warehouse Circus Inc. | Round and Round We Go [Nov 2013] | L - R: Benton Adams-Walker, Piri Goodman, Joshua Strachan, Cecilia Martin, Tara Melhuish | PHOTOGRAPHER: Katy Barr

Youth Circus in Australia:

A manifesto for the development of the Australian Youth Circus Sector 2014 – 2020


Testimonials ... Forward by Dr Gillian Arrighi ... Values, Mission & Vision ... Principles ... Strategies ... Acknowledgements ... Appendix A - Youth Circus in Australia ... Appendix B - International Links...

Page 4 - 11 Page 12 - 13 Page 14 - 15 Page 16 - 21 Page 22 - 23 Page 24 - 25 Page 26 - 28 Page 29

PHOT O CREDIT: NICA | Circus Showcase [2013] | Anna Murray | PHOTOGRAPHER: Aaron Walker

Karen Bryant Cirkidz


Karen is the Chief Executive of the Adelaide Festival Corporation. “I was involved with CIRKIDZ Youth Circus initially as a youth participant and later as a tutor and eventually as Artistic Director. As a teenager, involvement with CIRKIDZ classes and performances gave me much needed self-confidence, fitness and a real sense of skill sharing and belonging. This was also the first time I started to really gain a belief within myself that I could make a career out of my passion for the arts. CIRKIDZ allowed me to start developing my skills as a performance creator and the Company’s ongoing support for me assisted these dreams into professional practice. I wrote and had performed my first scripts with this company, traveled all around Australia with them and built a firm base on which everything related to my subsequent arts career was built. I have little doubt that without CIRKIDZ it is likely I would have pursued another career path; not because I would have preferred to - but because I simply would not have thought it possible.”

PHOT O CREDIT: Cirkidz | Nest [Oct 2013] | Lisa Goldsworthy | PHOTOGRAPHER: Hannah Tunstill

Lewie West Graduate of Warehouse Circus and NICA At Warehouse Circus, Lewie discovered a strong, supportive community and a new passion. Performing added a whole new element to his already active life which allowed for self-expression and increased self-confidence. The day after graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Circus Arts from NICA, Lewie flew to Brisbane to join Circa’s ensemble and has spent the last five and a half years touring the world. At Catapult Festival 2014, Lewie saw current Warehouse Circus members and recent graduates, Poncho Circus, perform; “Canberra has produced, and is still producing, talented, inspired young people who go on to be world class circus artists. [Poncho Circus] have taken the skills, both physical and theatrical, that they have learned at Warehouse and refined them into a tight, beautiful, exciting piece that could be toured to Europe and find success”

PHOT O CREDIT: C!RCA | CIRCA [2012] | Lewie West | PHOTOGRAPHER: Darcy Grant

PHOT O CREDIT: Spaghetti Circus | Sweden [2013] | Rhiannon Cave-Walker PHOTOGRAPHER: Einar Kling Odencrants

Rhiannon Cave-Walker Spaghetti Circus Rhiannon started at Spaghetti Circus aged 4 and graduated after the successful 2010 Spaghetti TOUR of Europe, 15 years later. “Spaghetti Circus allows young people to develop not only awesome circus skills but they also support you to find a way to create exciting work. Its immense focus on family and community make it different to every other circus in Australia.� After leaving Spaghetti Circus and traveling in search of circus companies in Europe, Rhiannon was accepted into the wonderful Circus University DOCH (Dans och Cirkus Hogskolan), the University of Circus and Dance in Stockholm, Sweden, in the three-year Bachelor program. Rhiannon is now a member of Gravity and Other Myths and is currently touring Europe, USA, Asia and Africa.

Luke O’Connor Westside Circus “I started training at Westside Circus in late 2001 when the only ongoing training they had was a class for teens. The main skills being taught were Acro and Aerial (Trapeze, Cloudswing and Tissu) and the trainer was Andrea Ousley. I remember there being a focus on becoming strong and feeling ownership over your own body. It was a place for everyone. In the training and in the shows individuals’ strengths were celebrated, whether for acrobatics, writing, music or performance, everyone contributed. The experience taught us resilience, cooperation, and leadership. It taught us to look out for each other, embrace and celebrate difference and to take the lead over our lives.”

PHOT O CREDIT: Westside Circus | Porcelain Punch Traveling Medicine Show [2011] | Luke O’Connor | PHOTOGRAPHER: unknown

Darcy Grant Flying Fruit Fly Circus “My name is Darcy Grant and I was a Flying Fruit Fly from 1997-2002. I had the pleasure (and pain) of studying under a variety of Chinese and Russian circus masters during this time. World class training, a close knit multicultural community, international touring and swimming in the Murray river. My time in Albury shaped my work ethic , my standards and my respect & care for others in an extremely positive way and it continues to do so… Looking back, the most important gift that the Flying Fruit Fly Circus gave me as a youth was that it provided me with ongoing engagement with skilled adult practitioners and a life-long understanding that hard work pays off. Circus gives great value to the community in that it develops healthy and thinking kids.”

PHOT O CREDIT: CIRCA | C!RCA [2009] | Darcy Grant PHOTOGRAPHER: Justin Nicholas, Atmosphere Photography

PHOT O CREDIT: Vulcana Women’s Circus | Forbidden Delights | Abbey Church PHOTOGRAPHER: NFG photography

Abbey Church Vulcana Women’s Circus “I’ve been working, performing and teaching with Vulcana Women’s Circus for the past 3 years. Heading to Vulcana after leaving Flipside’s Youth Circus, I couldn’t have asked for a better organisation to assist me in my transition from youth circus performer to adult performer. Growing up in Flipside Circus, from age 4 to16, taught me close to everything I deem of importance now. Youth circus exposed me to the beautiful range of diversity that exists in the world; in people, social classes, backgrounds, gender and age. I learnt about my physical body, mental and social self, to always keep challenging, growing and learning. I’m a huge advocate for Youth Circus; I perform, teach, stage manage, build tents, make popcorn and create work because of it.”

David Trappes Flipside Circus “Without Flipside Circus and Davey Samford I wouldn’t be where Im today! Circus and performing has been my life since I was eleven years old and I’ve just gotten my first big gig with Casus! Woohoo!”

PHOT O CREDIT: Flipside Circus | Identité [2013] | David Trappes PHOTOGRAPHER: Cameron Strom

FOREWoRD: Every year thousands of young people across Australia participate in circus skills classes and performances provided by the rapidly growing number of youth circus organisations Australiawide. The very idea of the circus has always conjured up images of extraordinary physical skill, exuberance, confidence, and fun. Whether at weekly classes, holiday programs, intensive workshops, or outreach programs in schools and community settings, young people aged from 2 to 28 are learning and performing skills in tumbling, trapeze, tight rope, clowning, aerial manoeuvres, juggling, balancing, hula hoop, or one of the many other skills adapted by the contemporary circus. These days, Australia can claim to be a world leader in the field of circus arts for young people. It’s not that it doesn’t happen overseas, it does. In North America, the UK, and in Europe numbers of youth circus participants are also on the rise, attracting the attention of policy makers with an eye for the social capital that youth circus generates. It’s just that Australia has been doing it quietly, but very well, for nearly forty years. Now, it’s time for Australian Youth Circus to be celebrated and applauded for its quality, integrity, and resilience, and for the positive change it brings to the lives of many young people and their families. For some young people, training in the circus arts initiates a pathway for a future career in the professional circus, in physical theatre, or in the wider performing arts industry. For those young people who are not destined for a career in the creative industries, the social and physical benefits of youth circus generate valuable skills for life long learning and values of engaged citizenship. Families and young participants across the country attest to its capacity to develop fit, flexible, and artistically skilled young people with heightened collaborative and creative problem solving skills. As one parent told me: “youth circus has made my children fit, strong, and full of confidence!”

Australian youth circus sprang with considerable energy from the many community arts programs and performance groups funded by innovative government arts initiatives during the 1970s. The earliest established group, The Flying Fruit Fly Circus in Albury-Wodonga, has been running since 1979 and is now an iconic national institution with a circus high school and a pre-professional program for promising teenage circus artists. Other longstanding and resilient organisations exist in every state and territory, in remote, regional, and metropolitan areas. In addition to core programs, some of these organisations have developed innovative circus arts programs for special interest groups such as indigenous youth, young people with a disability, migrant, and at-risk youth. Circus is a hybrid art. Both sporty and creative, it produces imaginative and aesthetic outcomes as much as it develops highly skilled physical proficiencies. With music and dance it shares the development of rhythm and precise physical skills; with sport it shares the development of strength, speed, physical development, and team building whilst avoiding the competitive spirit so essential to sporting endeavour; with drama it shares the development of self-confidence, performance skills, and lateral thinking, but is without the spoken word or character demands intrinsic to a written text. But for all the qualities that the circus arts share with other domains of physical and creative activity, Youth Circus is a unique field with substantial artistic and social benefits that ought to be supported by our country’s policy makers. Forty years after its early stirrings in the community arts movement, contemporary youth circus in Australia maintains the innovation and values that informed the movements for social change from which it sprang. Central to Australian youth circus activity is the strong belief that participation in the circus arts can foster good health, creativity, and a strengthened sense of selfesteem and social connectedness. As a researcher in the performing arts with a strong interest in the circus, I am very proud to be associated with the many dedicated, skilled, and innovative people who keep Australian youth circus alive and energized. Dr Gillian Arrighi Senior Lecturer, Creative and Performing Arts School of Creative Arts University of Newcastle, Australia

VALUES: Diversity | Respect | Access | Inclusion | Collaboration | Creative Expression | Physical Investigation | Life-Long Learning | Safety | Empowerment | Artistic Vibrancy| Resilience

MISSION: To secure the growth and resilience of the Australian Youth Circus Sector through innovation, collaboration and advocacy.

PHOT O CREDIT: FLying Fruit Fly Circus | Circus Under My Bed [Jan 2014] | Amie Patching and Jared Takle | PHOTOGRAPHER: Daniel Boud 2014 Helpmann Award Nominee

VISION: For circus to be recognised and valued as a leading art form in Australia, supported by a vibrant and well-resourced Youth Circus Sector.

PHOT O CREDIT: wESTSIDE cIRCUS | Beach Bodies [NOV 2013] | L-R: Sarah Coghlan, Lucy Tan, Elyse Lethwaithe, Oscar Lang, Rosie Grech | PHOTOGRAPHER: Simon Conlon


1. To grow participation in youth circus across Australia through greater accessibility. 2. To lead innovation and investment in youth arts practice. 3. To support high quality and diverse skill development opportunities. 4. To develop career pathways and life-long learning opportunities within the circus industry. 5. To collaborate through a national network to uphold an excellent standard of service delivery. 6. To increase the awareness of the benefits of youth circus for young people and for circus as a leading art-form in Australia.

1. To grow participation in youth circus across Australia through greater accessibility. The Australian Youth Circus Sector (AYCS) aims to grow participation in Youth Circus across Australia, including: encouraging increased participation of young people in youth circus workshops, programs, projects and performances; improving access to services, in particular for disadvantaged young people and for young people from regional and remote areas; advocating for schools and community groups to involve circus training in their curriculums or programs; fostering opportunities for engagement and participation from the wider community through for instance, mentoring and volunteering and; building audiences for youth circus performances. WHY? Increased participation is not only integral to the sustainability of youth circus companies and initiatives across Australia but also allows more Australians to experience the multifaceted benefits that Youth Circus provides for young people including: physical and mental health and wellbeing; social engagement and inclusion, and; creative development and artistic expression. Youth Circus fosters personal growth, which extends beyond circus training and performance to other areas of life including engagement with education and the wider community, the benefits of which can extend throughout a lifetime. In this way, increased access to and participation in youth circus will contribute to the building of healthy and strong communities across Australia.

2. To lead innovation and investment in youth arts practice. The AYCS seeks to encourage investment in innovative and diverse arts practices with, by and for young people including the support of initiatives such as: immersive education for youth circus directors; artists in residence programs; collaborative projects where emerging directors, choreographers and circus trainers are able to work in a variety of companies, institutions and other learning environments to expand on their arts practice experience, and feedback opportunities for young artists including forums, roundtables, mentorships with professional artists and the use of circus and physical theatre dramaturges. The AYCS supports the development of a variety of production models and acknowledges skill development as an integral part of the creative process in circus arts practice. WHY? Innovation and diversity in arts practices at the youth circus level filters through to a versatile and inspiring professional circus sector with capacity to attract audiences from a broad spectrum of the community. Continued creativity coming out of the sector will serve to raise the profile of circus as an art form in its own right. Innovation and diversity in arts practices can also lead to exploration of the many synergies circus arts has with other performing arts such as drama, dance and music and open up possible areas for collaboration, learning and expression.

3. To support high quality and diverse skill development opportunities. Whether for social engagement or elite performance, skill development is at the heart of youth circus delivery in Australia. The AYCS supports opportunities for high quality skill development across a wide range of circus disciplines through initiatives such as: the Flying Fruit Flies’ National Training Project; Catapult Festival and; other festival or company based training intensives or master classes. WHY? Creating opportunities for youth circus participants, performers and trainers to engage in diverse skills training is fundamental to the AYCS in that it promotes the dissemination of wide variety training methods and styles across an array of disciplines and allows for young Australian circus artists to be well equipped to establish careers in the international market place.

4. To develop career pathways and life-long learning opportunities within the circus industry. The AYCS will actively collaborate to continue to develop pathways for young people including, but not limited to: emerging artist projects and other transitional educational opportunities for young circus and physical theatre performers, directors, writers, choreographers, designers and producers; ‘train the trainer’ programs; professional development for circus trainers and directors working within youth circus companies; formal educational opportunities through schools and universities and; internships and residencies with professional companies and artists across diverse areas of the industry. WHY? There is a wide variety of opportunities for employment within the circus and physical theatre sector and the wider performing arts industry. For this reason the AYCS recognises the need for a variety of pathways which allows for young people to stay working within the circus industry both to ensure a strong, diverse and highly skilled industry into the future and to allow for individuals to develop sustainable careers within the sector. The AYCS recognises the need for circus performers to be adaptable across the different stages of their career and supports ongoing learning and career development. Youth Circus companies are at the forefront of providing both pathways for young people and employment and professional development opportunities for practitioners and artists across their careers.

5. To collaborate through a national network to uphold an excellent standard of service delivery. The AYCS has an ongoing commitment to quality improvement in service delivery across the sector. The sector seeks to achieve this through providing opportunities for discussion and networking, national forums such as the National Youth Circus Symposium and as part of Catapult Festival and regular regional/ State networking events. WHY? Many of the challenges facing youth circus organisations and practitioners are similar such as: resource management; trainer training; facilities; insurances; pay rates; program development; funding; governance and; risk management. These issues can be efficiently and effectively addressed by individual organisations and practitioners drawing on the cumulative resources and collective knowledge of the sector.

6. To increase the awareness of the benefits of youth circus for young people and for circus as a leading art-form in Australia. It is time that the story of over forty years of youth circus in Australia was told and celebrated by the wider Australian community. To increase awareness locally, nationally and internationally of the benefits of youth circus, the AYCS recognises the need for supporting: research into the benefits of youth circus in the areas of health and wellbeing, injury prevention, community development, education and access, as well as data collection on youth circus participation levels nationally; celebration of young circus artists working professionally in Australia and in the international marketplace; ongoing advocacy by our peak body ACAPTA; increased presence of youth circuses in local communities through public performances and workshops and collaborative media campaigns such as National Youth Circus Day. WHY? The sector needs to maintain access to suitable circus arts development spaces, high quality arts professionals (including circus trainers, directors, producers and choreographers) and to provide access to programs for young people who are among the most disadvantaged in our communities. Further, recognition of circus as a legitimate art form in the wider community is crucial for the funding of projects that promote artistic development and excellence in young artists. Finally, the AYCS hopes that the unique way youth circus is practiced in Australia can play an important role in informing our national identity and creating a picture of Australia as an international leader in circus arts.

PHOT O CREDIT: NICA | E Minor [2013] Marty Evans and Maggie Fayne-Alwin PHOTOGRAPHER: David Wyatt



Cirkidz | Nest [Oct 2013] | Mikaela Brader | PHOTOGRAPHER: Hannah Tunstill

1. To provide a platform for national celebration, collaboration and promotion of youth circus, to enhance awareness and engagement. The biannual Catapult Festival, Bathurst, for example, is a model that should be evaluated and continuously improved. Catapult Festival currently brings together the AYCS in workshops, directors’ labs, creative development projects, forums and performances. • National Youth Circus Day is an annual National celebration around which ACAPTA coordinates a collaborative media campaign. The sector supports this strategy by registering National Youth Circus Day events for publication. • The sector encourages other organisations to provide national promotion and networking activities. 2. To provide access to a national network to support creative practitioners to develop partnerships and best youth arts practice. • The National Youth Circus Arts Exchange is a project currently in development. It is anticipated that this will form the basis for a working model. • Youth Circus Schools and Circus professional endeavor’s throughout Australia will unite to promote partnerships, pathways and professional development activities. 3. To hold at least one annual national event to drive excellence in skill development, safety practice and circus arts. • Currently the Flying Fruit Fly Circus’ National Training Project provides an excellent model. • The sector is encouraged to support and promote national opportunities for sharing teaching and learning exchanges. 4. To conduct an annual national forum for networking, the sharing of knowledge and the development of strategies and new ideas. • The annual National Youth Circus Symposium currently organised by ACAPTA provides such a forum at the present time and provides a good model for this aim in the future. • Other models that create national opportunities are to be supported by the sector.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT S: Thank you to all National Youth Circus Symposium 2013 and 2014 participants who contributed to the development of this strategy. Aleshia Flanagan, Warehouse Circus Inc. Alice Cadwell, Spaghetti Circus Andrew Rayner, The Lieder Youth Theatre Company Annie Stephens, Circus Oz Bel Macedone, Aerialize: Sydney Aerial Theatre Ben Martin, The Lieder Youth Theatre Company Bianca Sciarretta, Westside Circus Cate Cunningham, Freelance Chelsea McGuffin, Flipside Circus Chris Larsen, Flipside Circus David Carberry, Lady Torpedo Productions David Bowyer, WA Circus School Deb Wilks, Flipside Circus Gail Kelly, ACAPTA Hamish Clift, Flipside Circus Holly Shoar, The Flying Trapeze Centre Ina Van Puymboreck, Freelance Jack Peterson, Australian Trapeze Jasmine Leong, Warehouse Circus Jo Mion, Westside Circus Jodie Farrugia, Flying Fruit Fly Circus Joshua Hoare, Cirkidz

Judy Bowden, Lolly Jar Circus Inc. Karen Edelenbos, Westside Circus Katy Barr, Warehouse Circus Kristina Dzelmanis, Circus Monoxide Kristy Seymour, Freelance Larissa Deak, Vulcana Kids - Vulcana Women’s Circus Martina Linder, Circus Helsinki Merryn Chenoweth, Westside Circus Nathan Anderson, Warehouse Circus Inc. Nick Skibinski, Cirkidz Nikki Jeffries, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Peta Johnston, Catapult festival Phillippa Scott, Skylark Circus Rebekah Kordas, Freelance Richard Hull, Flying Fruit Fly Circus Rose Stephens, National Institute of Circus Arts Scott Grayland, Flying Fruit Fly Circus Simon Clarke, Westside Circus Simone O’Brien, Spaghetti Circus Sue Broadway, Westside Circus Vanessa McGregor, The Indoor Flying Trapeze Centre

PHOT O CREDIT: FLying Fruit Fly Circus | Circus Under My Bed [Jan 2014] | Zachariah Johnson and Deni Davidson PHOTOGRAPHER: Daniel Boud

Appendix A: Youth Circus in Australia ACT:

Warehouse Circus Inc.

Aleshia Flanagan


Aerialize: Sydney Aerial Theatre

Brophy Aerial Theatre Company

Ashley Brophy

Catapult Festival

Leonie Smith [acting]

Cate Cunningham


Jill Watkins

Circo Blurto

Tahmour Kate Bloomfield

Circus 35 South

Geoff Perrem & Sharon McCutcheon

Circus Akimbo

Claire Reincastle

Circus Arts [Head Office - Byron Bay, NSW]

Tanya Burkhardt

Circus Avalon

John Campbell

Circus Monoxide

Kristina Dzelmanis

Circus Unique

Pixie & John williams

Circus West [Dubbo College Delroy Campus]

Paul Woodhead

CircusTRAC [Gunnedah Circus School]

Taylah Riley

Cirkus Surreal

Stephanie Brown

Cirque du Scout

Tracey Hansford

Flying Fruit Fly Circus

Richard Hull

Half High Circus

Kristina Dzelmanis

Lieder Youth Theatre Company Chrisjohn Hancock

Slippry Sirkus

Denni Scott Davis

Spaghetti Circus

Alice Cadwell

[Two Rivers Arts Council]

MOB: 0419 545 206

Zany Yare

Tanya Richards

Corrugated Iron Youth Arts

Nikki Jeffries

Kindred Circus

Michelle Stevens



Aerial Angels Gold Coast

Industry Aerial Arts

Tammy Zarb


Kelli Craig groups/132502246778846

Brophy Aerial Theatre Company

Ashley Brophy

Circa Contemporary Circus

Charlie Cush

Circus Arts

Tanya Burkhardt

Circus Stars

Kristy Seymour

Flipside Circus

Debbie Wilks

Kartwheel Kids Gymnastics & Circus

Rhonda Pacholke

Sensory Circus Tribe

Tammy Stone

Vulcana Women’s Circus

Kirstin Sillitoe

Cirkidz Inc

Nick Skibinski

Lolly Jar Circus

Judy Bowen

Arlette Bruggeman

Australian Trapeze


Castlemaine Circus Inc

Jane Goodrich

Circus Oz

Pippin Aitken

Flying Trapeze Centre Aust

Steen & Holly Shoar

Kinder Circus

Heather Tetu



Slipstream Circus


National Institute of Circus Arts [NICA]

Matthew Noone

Ruccis Circus

Anna Brooks

Skylark Circus

Jasmin Meaker

Solid State Circus

Luth Wolff

Soul Circus

Bronwyn Falagan

The Circus Spot

Daniel Rabin

Westside Circus

Simon Clarke

Access Circus

Renee Pilkington

Gascoyne Circus & Physical Theatre

Theaker von Ziarno

Kinetica Circus Arts

Sarah Ritchie & Rebecca McMahon

Lunar Circus

Matt / Cath Wood

Sandfly Circus [Theatre Kimberly]

Gwen Knox


Southern Edge Arts

Beth O’Neill

Suitcase Circus

Joe Bolton

Total Theatre

Sophie Bolton Total-Theatre

WA Circus School Inc.

Sami Bruce

Appendix B: International Links American Youth Circus Organization Ass. Giocolieri e Dintorni (Italy) Ateneu Popular Nou Barris (Spain) BAG Zirkuspädagogik (Germany) Belfast Community Circus (Northern Ireland) Caravan Circus Network Circomundo (Netherlands) Circus Elleboog (The Netherlands) Circus Kumari (New Zealand) Circuscentrum (Belgium, Flemish part) Cirkus Cirkör (Sweden) Cirqueon - centrum pro nový cirkus (Czech Republic) Dubal (Denmark) Ecole de Cirque de Bruxelles Brussels (Belgium) Fédération Française des Ecoles de cirque (France) Fédération Suisse des Ecoles de Cirque (Switserland) Finnish Youth Circus Association (Finland) Galway Community Circus (Republic of Ireland) La Maison du Cirque (Belgium, French part) Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde (France) Österreichischer Bundesverband für Zirkuspädagogik (Austria) PARADA Foundation (Romania) Sorin Sirkus (Finland) Uk Youth Cuircus network (No website available) Upsala Circus (Russian Federation) Wellington Youth Circus / Wellington Circus Hub Zaltimbanq (Luxembourg)

PHOT O CREDIT: NICA | Circus Showcase [2013] | Hanne Grant PHOTOGRAPHER: Aaron Walker

Back PAGE - PHOT O CREDIT: Warehouse Circus Inc. | Round and Round We Go [Nov 2013] | L – R: Holly Raap, Cameron Summerville, Joshua Strachan, Piri Goodman, Benton Adams-Walker, Elena Hood | PHOTOGRAPHER: Katy Barr