It’s been a long time since my husband and I last had a date night. So when the circus came to town – we couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab a night to ourselves. But this isn’t any ordinary circus. This is Circa! Think circus feats mixed with vaudeville and burlesque, and you are starting to understand the awesomeness behind this most unusual circus. This is circus for the grownups!
The performance didn’t disappoint. It was unbelievable and I know the rest of the audience was with me on this because at the end, there was a standing ovation. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a standing ovation. What can I say? Canberra can be a really tough crowd. Circa managed to blend circus beautifully with both theatre and humour. They didn’t need clowns because the humour was subtly woven throughout the entire performance. The things they could do! There was a lot of collective gasping and breath holding, not to mention the applause was deafening at times. But the performance was not flawless. Robbie, who can squeeze himself through a tennis racquet (seriously – we all were holding our breath, but he did it – while juggling), managed to drop quite a few of his juggling balls. But you can forgive him quite easily if only because it reminded you of how difficult what they were trying to do is. Perhaps it was because I did gymnastics for so many years, there were certain times during their performance where I felt like yelling out to the audience, “You should be applauding here because what they’re doing is so difficult.” But that was half of Circa’s problem. They were so good at making everything look so easy, through the fluidity of their movement and their incredible strength, that as my husband put it, you end up thinking, “If I was a little more fit, I bet I could do that.” But let’s be realistic. There is no way you could remotely do any of what they do.
Bridie Hooper, pictured above, was my favourite. She joined Spaghetti Circus when she was only 11 years old. Her passion for the craft took her all the way to the Montreal National Circus School where she, not only completed her studies, but also performed at the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony. Then she had the good sense to join Circa. This woman must be made of rubber. I seriously doubt she has any joints. Let me sum up her performances by this – when Bridie comes on stage, you know there is going to be some impossible bending of the human body involved.
I don’t know about you, but when I get the chance to meet people with a rather unique career – I’m always interested to know how they wound up there. How exactly does one become a circus performer? I was lucky enough to sit down with some of the Circa ensemble and find out. As you can imagine, the majority of this incredibly flexible (and strong) crew started out with one of the circus schools. Spaghetti Circus, Circus Oz, Fruit Fly and Canberra’s own Wharehouse Circus tend to be the favourites. But if you dig a little further, you find out that quite a few of them were also athletes before pursuing a career in the circus. Makes sense considering the enormous amount of strength and flexibility they need to make these remarkable feats look effortless. For those who are truly serious about escaping to the circus, you can attend the National Institute of Circus Arts to gain a degree. The age range of Circa’s ensemble stretches from 21years to 47years! I find it difficult to imagine being able to do acrobatics at any age, let alone when I’m over
forty thirty. And if you thought the idea of running away with the circus couldn’t get any more exciting – Circa has toured in over 30 countries! Maybe don’t tell your children that… they probably don’t need any more encouragement.
Those of you who live in Brisbane are really lucky, because Circa has their very own circus school, which doesn’t only train children – it also has fitness classes for adults. Now that is the kind of fitness that would see me walk into a gym!
But for the rest of us who struggle to touch our toes, just grab a ticket to Circa’s next performance. If you’re in Canberra, the Canberra Theatre still has dates available. With tickets starting from only $30 – you’d be crazy to miss it. Your best bet is Saturday’s matinee because there are quite a few of the good seats left.
Should you take your children? So long as they can sit still for 80mins (there isn’t any intermission), I would. I know this is a performance targeted towards adults, but so long as you don’t mind them seeing people in their underwear (don’t be prudes), you really wouldn’t want them to miss out. The only thing your children won’t get, is some of the humour… Nor will they appreciate some of the fine music used either, such as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” But we can forgive them for that.