After its first year in the new purpose-built space in Collingwood, Circus Oz has built a genuine 'circus hub' where an incredibly diverse range of circus artists gather to train, collaborate and push the boundaries of the art form.

“Circus Oz has a longstanding commitment to the development of circus. We believe that vibrant, diverse and brave independent companies and artists fuel circus in Australia – it’s vital that we support their development and their ability to take artistic risks,” said Antonella Casella, Circus Oz Senior Artistic Associate.

Circus Oz has developed a series of initiatives specifically designed to support and foster circus development under the umbrella of the Sidesault program that incorporates Open Training and Strong Women, which promotes the professional development of emerging female circus artists. This October Circus Oz will undertake its fifth BLAKflip masterclasses, which focuses on creating pathways and building the pool of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander circus artists.

“All of these development initiatives, separately and together, foster a kind of ‘circus hub’ – a physical place, but also a mindset, which is about sharing skills and ideas, challenging each other and also leaping into the unknown. It might just be two artists meeting for the first time in the hallway and discovering a joint creative vision or it might be a month of intensive masterclasses leading to a public performance. It all amounts to a bunch of very talented and passionate people being supported to develop as artists, as small companies and as future Circus Oz collaborators,” Casella explains.

In 2014, Circus Oz launched the Sidesault program – an initiative designed to encourage and foster development in the circus arts through the provision of access to rehearsal space, equipment and collaboration. In the past year, Sidesault participants have ranged from multi-award winning, internationally renowned small circus ensembles to individual artists taking their first tentative steps towards creating original work. Throughout Sidesault’s first year (2014-15), Circus Oz welcomed over 130 individuals (including 70 emerging artists) and 20 small companies to utilise the rehearsal spaces in Collingwood, providing more than 1,000 hours of supported training, rehearsals, creative development, access to open training and masterclasses. Circus Oz has provided support to companies and individuals including acrobat (Circus Oz artists-in-residence 2014), Casus, Emma J Hawkins, Dislocate, Gravity Dolls, Idle Hands, KAGE Physical Theatre, LEAP, Long Answers to Simple Questions, Melbourne Clown Community and artists regularly featured with Finucane and Smith. The award-winning kids circus favourite, The Trash Test Dummies, has just finished participating in Sidesault to hone their no-holds-barred physical clowning for their inaugural Edinburgh Festival Fringe show later this month.

Strong Women
Circus Oz will launch the first Strong Women masterclass program from 17 August – 4 September 2015. This program will be an intensive, three-week immersion in circus creation for seven emerging female circus artists from across Australia, including Vanessa Macgregor (National Institute of Circus Arts graduate), Abbey Church (formerly from Brisbane’s Flipside Circus) and Kelsey Shepherd and Marcela Scheuner (past of Flying Fruit Fly Circus members). Trainers Rockie Stone, Phil Witt, Amy MacPherson, Adam Patterson, Anna Yen and Chris Carlos will teach skills covering tumbling, knockabout, pole climbing, flying trapeze, movement and dance for circus, partner acrobatics and clowning. Emerging circus director, and former Circus Oz ensemble member, Nicci Wilks will lead a series of creative sessions culminating in the development of short performance pieces. The inaugural Strong Women participants will throw themselves (literally) into the widest possible range of skills and performance styles and challenge their own ideas of what it means to be a female circus performer. Ultimately, Circus Oz Strong Women celebrates everything that women are capable of – laughing in the face of danger with incredible grace, strength and stamina.

Generously supported by Annamila, Circus Oz continues its BLAKflip program for emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander circus artists co-ordinated by the new Circus Oz Aboriginal and Torres Strait Program Manager, Davey Thompson. Since 2011, 40 inspired and inspiring artists have participated in BLAKflip masterclasses, internships and performances. Dale Woodbridge-Brown, Genoa Gela and Mark Sheppard are BLAKflip alumni who have performed nationally and internationally as part of the Circus Oz ensemble. Circus Oz is now calling for expressions of interest for the 2015 BLAKflip masterclass program, running from 26 October – 13 November 2015 at the Collingwood headquarters. A three-week intensive program for 8 – 10 participants, BLAKflip is reaching out to the incredible pools of talent in Indigenous dance, theatre, comedy and music to enrich the contemporary circus art form.

Circus Oz
Credited with revitalising a traditional artform in a uniquely Australian way, Circus Oz 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 continued touring to over 100 cities and regions in 27 countries – playing to over 3.6 million people.


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