The South Australian Circus Centre has been a creative outlet for thousands of children and adults across Adelaide. Running classes out of their Bowden headquarters and performing in major festivals and cultural events, the organisation is always evolving and creating new works and partnerships.
As part of the 2021 Adelaide Fringe, The South Australian Circus Centre is premiering a new show, Breathe. I recently caught up with their Artistic Director, Joshua Hoare, to find out more about the show and the organisation.
“Thirty-five years ago, Tony Hannon and Michael Lester started a project for kids in the inner-west of Adelaide for kids who were disengaging from school and getting in trouble with the law. It was using circus as a tool for social capital building. This is a really common practice in Australia where we use circus as a tool for giving kids experiences of trust, attendance, discipline, rigour and sensitivity. It was very successful when it was started, and today we are still doing a lot of social circus work. We also have a recreational circus school and an artist development program, which we are strongest at. We also do public work, commissions, shows for festivals and so on.”
The South Australian Circus Centre runs classes throughout the week out of their Bowden headquarters, and anyone who shows interest in circus skills can participate.
“Kids from 2 1/2 through to adults come in a few times a week and do circus for fun and for fitness. We know that most of our families, and especially for kids, it’s for confidence building. From research when talking to our families, the biggest thing kids get out of doing circus is confidence. Basically anyone 12 years old or under is part of the CirKidz brand, then once they become teenagers and adults they are part of the SA Circus Centre.
“Some of our trainers have been in companies like Cirque Du Soleil and Circus Oz, but many of them come from within the program itself as well – we train our own trainers. We have a very strong ‘train the trainer’ program for young people who have grown up within the organisation and then want to go on to become coaches as well.”
Their new show, Breathe, is created entirely by the students themselves, and Joshua explained to me how the show was devised from conception right through to the soundtrack and costuming.
“Breathe will be presented by our artist development program. The program is for young people who want to go on to be professional artists. They are training up to five times a week, sometimes seeing each other more than their own families.
“The concept with this new show is that breath is part of us all. It’s the first and the last thing to be with us, and it’s the foundation for so much of what we do. The young people devised this work with their director, Jono Dragt, who is also our Artist Development Coordinator. Our method is to devise works with our kids, so we are training them to become professional artists who make their own work. They have very rigorous technical training for acrobatics and aerial work and so on, but then we also combine that with creative tasking. So, we might get them to improvise around ideas or themes, or we might get them to reinterpret things in different ways. Then what the team does is look through the material to see what best suits the show, and then they put that material together. By the end, they finish with a product they have been involved with creating from the beginning.
“One of the artists, Phoenix Pastro, composed the score for the whole show, and the two other artists, Sarah Norton and Juliet Macleod, were really instrumental in designing the costumes. That’s part of our vision, supporting kids to become whole artists, because very soon they will be producing, making, directing their own work. We want our kids to be able to thrive in a very tough industry. For us, it’s about making makers, who are autonomists.”
Later this year, The South Australian Circus Centre will be presenting another new show, Placeship, as part of the DreamBig Festival.
“This is a partnership between Cirkidz and Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi, which is the Kaurna language committee based in Adelaide. It’s a school show, and students will arrive at the drill hall on Torrens Parade Grounds, where they will realise that something has broken through the floor of the hall. There will be this big dome covering it, and people in suits looking very serious and concerned, but the kids won’t know what has happened. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, they will learn what has broken through the floor, what the dome is over the top and it will all point to something that is much bigger than themselves, as individuals, and us, as a community here in Adelaide. Schools can sign up for this through the DreamBig Festival website.”
2021 is shaping up to be another busy year for The South Australian Circus Centre, with multiple performance opportunities for their students to experience and for audiences to witness.
Breathe will be premiering at the 2021 Adelaide Fringe between February 20 to 28 at The Flamingo, in Gluttony. Bookings can be made through FringeTix or via https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/breathe-af2021
Interview by Ben Stefanoff