While some might have elephants and clowns in their minds when it comes to the circus, Circus Oz has been a game changer as a pioneer of new circus in Australia since 1978. Slick choreography, evocative live music and jaw dropping acrobatics are just some of the essential components to a Circus Oz show, and with more than forty years defying gravity, Circus Oz tours nationally and makes new works each year. In admist remounting and touring their recent works Precarious and Rock Bang around Australia, plus taking on a Colombian tour of Model Citizens, this year Meat Market will be hosting an exciting new project that Circus Oz is presenting with Brisbane based Company2.
Seasoned acrobat Skip Walker-Milne answers a handful of questions that we had about his time with Company2, how he became an acrobat, and what we should expect to see in Wunderage.
Hello Skip! It’s always good to know someone before we start getting into the nitty-gritty. Tell us a little about yourself – how did you come to be an acrobat, where did you study or train, and how have you found your way to Circus Oz?
I fell in love with the circus artform in my last years of high school, then went on to complete a Bachelor of Circus Arts at NICA (the National Institute of Circus Arts) from 2010 – 2012, graduating as a specialist in Chinese pole acrobatics. I have been a long-standing member of Company2 performing in their shows since 2015, and am now thrilled to be involved in this collaboration with Circus Oz and Company2.
Tell us a little about Wunderage – is there a storyline? What are the main themes of the show? What can we expect to see on stage?
Wunderage doesn’t have a narrative storyline as such. When entering the world of Wunderage, we meet a troupe of performers set against the backdrop of a nostalgic period of time with a nod to the past. The show has dream-like sequences of moments or ideas – a series of happenings rather than a specific story to follow. Tightwires are definitely the major feature of the show, and the look and feel of the show has all been created around the series of tightwires we are using, some up to four metres high. In addition to wire walking, we also perform Chinese Pole, balance bike, hand balancing – all set to an original live music soundscape.
So it sounds like tightwire is an exciting, big focus in the show! Can you talk a little bit about how we’ll see this delightful discipline used in the show?
Tightwire certainly is a major feature in this show! As it is a promenade performance (no seats), the audience are encouraged to walk under and around the tightwires – a very rare and extremely immersive experience. Tightwire is one of the most traditional circus forms, and Wunderage stays true to that tradition but also extends upon it, allowing us to showcase innovative ways of presenting tightwire in a truly contemporary circus work.
This is an exciting collaboration between two circus companies that have toured the world – what signature elements from both companies will we see in this show?
Company2 bring their years of expertise on tightwire to Wunderage, melding that with Circus Oz’s history of leadership and experience across the circus artform more broadly. Together, the two companies have been able to push the boundaries with this work, featuring tightwires in a way that I have never before seen.
Wunderage is co-directed by Circus Oz’s Rob Tanion and Company2’s Chelsea McGuffin – how is the rehearsal room run by them? What’s the creation like?
It has been an amazing collaborative vibe creating Wunderage in the rehearsal room. Both Rob and Chelsea have been able to meld the very different styles of both companies and bring it all together in a very cohesive way. Coming from Company2, the creative process is always something that fascinates, so watching that be both challenged and encouraged by Circus Oz’s own creative process has been really rewarding and a great experience.
What sets apart the people of circus from other art forms like dance and theatre?
I feel like nowadays there is definitely overlap within these artforms, and at both Company2 and Circus Oz often we do combine a lot of these artforms while performing – whether it’s dancing, singing or playing music. Circus requires a lot of really specific training for the different disciplines within it, and it takes many years of practice and training to be able to perform a trick or an act that might be only seconds worth of material. It has taken many, many years of training for me to get where I am now.
Wunderage by Circus Oz & Company2 runs from 20 – 30 June at Meat Market. Discover more about Wunderage and book here.