The Arts

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Off to the circus

Have you ever thought of joining the circus? Maybe you are a great tumbler or have always wanted to be one of the flying stars, high up on the trapeze? Circus Oz is currently recruiting Indigenous artists for its Blakrobatics Masterclass and Blakrobatics Internship. Deadly Vibe caught up with Dale WoodBridge, a young man who recently was an intern with them.

This year Dale Woodbridge (a Kamilaroi man from Mungindi) and Ghenoa Gela (a Torres Strait Islander woman from Rockhampton), became Circus Oz Blakrobatics interns with the current Circus Oz ensemble. They helped develop as well as starred in the four-week Melbourne season of From The Ground Up, which is now on a regional tour in Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra before heading to America at the end of this year.

Dale says he was looking for a change from dancing and the internship provided just that.

“I was studying at the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts in Brisbane when Circus Oz contacted me and a few others to come and do the master class in circus skills. It lasted a week. At the end of that week, we did a show and tell of what we had worked on. There were comedians, actors and dancers, and this was the audition for the internship,” Dale says.

Dale was successful in the audition from Brisbane to Melbourne to take up the internship with Circus Oz.

“We had a few weeks of training – the rookie lab. I learnt some new skills such as trapeze, which is cool. We also learnt juggling. I was already a tumbler because I am a former gymnast. We also did random skills,” he says.

“I was more set on being a dancer and dancing with Bangarra at that stage, but I went for this and the circus is a whole different ball game to dancing – it is a lot more fun.

“With dancing there is only so much you can do – though you can try different styles. With circus there are so many different apparatus you can use. A lot of that is crossing over now. A lot of dancing is having a lot more physical theatre, so having circus skills is a plus for me.”

Dale is now on a regional tour in Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra before heading to America at the end of this year with the From the Ground Up show.

“After the local shows, we are heading to America for six weeks, to New York and then a regional tour of the USA. It will be awesome,” he says.

Circus Oz artistic director Mike Finch says philanthropic support enabled Circus Oz to establish the Circus Oz Blakrobatics Program. This provides a pathway for talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing artists to be identified, mentored and supported through internships and as potential members of the Circus Oz ensemble.

“There are powerful connections between the irreverent humour and physicality of both the circus and Indigenous communities and the Circus Oz Blakrobatics Program intends to bring these together,” Mike says.

“Working with a reference group made up of local senior Indigenous artists, Elders and respected cultural and community leaders, Joshua Bond has joined Circus Oz as the Koori programs coordinator and artistic associate. He facilitated the inaugural Blakrobatics Masterclass earlier this year.”

 Blakrobatics Masterclass

Selected applicants have the opportunity to participate in a one-week introduction and orientation to high-level circus skills training and performance from 23 October to  3 November 2012.

 Blakrobatics Internship

Two people selected from the Blackrobatics Masterclass will then have a 16-week internship with the Circus Oz ensemble. The Blakrobatics Internship includes participation in THE LAB that develops the Circus Oz Melbourne Tent Season in 2013, as well as the development of a specialist solo act, professional training and rehearsals with the Circus Oz artist team, ensemble and guest trainers, and the potential to participate in the Circus Oz Melbourne Tent Season in 2013.

Applications for the Circus Oz Blakrobatics Program close on Friday, 5 October 2012. These programs are open to emerging and mid-career Indigenous performing artists from a wide range of artistic and multidisciplinary backgrounds with a particular focus on pursuing a career in a contemporary circus and/or performing arts environment.

Circus Oz is credited with revitalising a traditional art form in a uniquely Australian way. It is a rock ‘n’ roll, animal-free circus that has influenced the development of circus arts around the world since its foundation in 1978. Circus Oz undertook its first and critically praised international tour in 1980, and has since toured over 100 cities and regions in 26 countries, playing to over two million people.

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