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Circus Oz: Flying high from the ground up

Sarah Lim

Mon May 07 2012


THE famous Australian circus ensemble is back in Melbourne. Sarah Lim gives you an insider look into their upcoming show.

Photo: Marcus Huang

Circus Oz, Australia’s famous company of circus performers, has returned from their tour in the US and is back in Melbourne for their brand new show, From The Ground Up. The show is due to premiere at the end of June 2012 right here in this city.

On Monday April 30, members of the Circus Oz cast gathered at their current headquarters in Port Melbourne to give a sneak peek of the new routines and ideas they’ve got brewing for their new act.

The rehearsal space at their headquarters spanned a large loft with many rigs, high beams and circus mechanics. Some of the actors had a chance to show off their mind-blowing talents, and among them were baton twirling, troupe acrobatics, trapeze and foot juggling.

One attention-grabbing performance was the circus opera, involving a long rectangular construction-like beam which could be tilted left or right and lifted from the ground. The animated cast were hanging from the beam and dancing around it with flips and cartwheels along to the live band comprising a saxophonist, drummer and trumpeter that played in the background.

Ghenoa Gela. Photo: Marcus Huang

In addition to the brief performances, new ensemble members of Circus Oz were also introduced along the way. Among the five new star talents joining the group was Ghenoa Gela, of Torres Strait Islander descent. Her enthusiasm was palpable.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m always excited about doing a new show and especially going through a new process with these guys is very exciting – and I know I keep saying ‘exciting’, but it really is,” she says.

Photo: Marcus Huang

The artistic director of Circus Oz, Mike Finch, who has been part of the team for 15 years, spoke passionately about the creative process behind preparing for the show.

“We are in the process of designing our new building which is going to be in Collingwood, and it’s going to be built over the next two years and the construction has just started. In a way, the show will echo some of that about building things from the ground up,” he says.

And then it clicked, why most of the cast were dressed in construction attire during their performance – funky helmets, overalls, boots and all. And though the forthcoming show’s costumes have yet to be decided, you get the sense it may not stray too far from what the public has seen so far from the Circus Oz posters.

Photo: Marcus Huang

Flowing from the DNA of Circus Oz is believing in a new future for what it means to be Australian, Finch says.

“There’s a kind of notion of redefining Australia not just as an European country. Our vision for Australia is completely diverse – like a fruit salad of different cultures and ideas and people and backgrounds that are united, not just through the geography,” he says.

“This is going to be like a flavour in the show – the notion of diversity. Each of the acts are really different. So there’s also that feeling of  Australia from the ground up.”

While Mike says they prepare and decide on the specifics for each act as they go along, the short previews definitely promise an interesting and spectacular show to come.

Photo: Marcus Huang

Photo: Marcus Huang

Photo: Marcus Huang

Circus Oz’s ‘From The Ground Up’ will be showing at the Circus Oz Big Top in Melbourne from June 20 to July 15, 2012. Tickets range from $30 to $82.50. To book tickets, visit the Ticketmaster website or call 136 100. For more information on the show, visit the Circus Oz website.