Posted by Meredith Benke Bell
It’s been an exciting year for the Act-Belong-Commit Sandfly Circus, and having completed my first year as program coordinator, I find there’s quite a lot to reflect on.
We started the year with a team of 20-something Sandflies representing us down at the annualWA Circus Festival in Karridale. We were invited to perform in the festival, so Gwen and I re-shaped the “Chinatown Big Top” show to fit the festival. Gwen and Franque then directed the team to success in the packed Big Top in front of local, interstate and international visitors. Well done, Sandflies!
We were still sweating out the end of the wet season when we celebratedWorld Circus Day with Circus Olympics at the Broome Courthouse Markets as our first event of the year. It was a great morning of silly fun. Our emcee, Ben Collins, donned some stunning 70’s era athletic gear and lead the gathering crowd thru numerous circus events. It was great for our enrolled participants to have a go in public, but it was also great fun to invite others to the stage, which included some total newbies - brave souls, young and old!
It was an exciting first for the Act-Belong-Commit Sandfly Circus to be able to hire a full time Head Trainer for Terms 2 and 3. More often we hire visiting trainers for shorter stints, but this year, we were able to offer a 5-month position. We welcomed Kate Reid of Candy Stripe Circus (Blue Mountains, NSW) to our fold. She taught circus on various Dragonfly outreach projects and head taught our weekly classes in town. It’s a benefit for everyone to learn new skills, games, and teaching methods, so many thanks to Gwen for sourcing the funding for Kate’s position!
Additionally, Kate worked with former Sandfly Louis Biggs to develop our performing troupe’s show that boasted some 16 of our keenest circus nuts. They performed at the Broome races, Shinju Matsuri closing ceremony and Marsh Arts Festival in Derby.
We developed our annual show this year with a crew from the (teenage) Marchfly class. Hayley, Jake, and Madhavi helped me to develop and write “Outta This World” over the course of two school terms. We were fortunate to have Kate’s experience to help develop the show - especially working up space-themed acts in exciting areas like bungee – something new for the Sandflies!
“Outta This World” was a great lot of fun, and we were delighted to haveJoey Ruigrok van der Werven along to help us craft delightful lighting contraptions and space traveling vehicles for our intergalactic voyage. Working with light in a more hands on way gave our show an even more magical feel. We even experienced the visitation of a flying comet – which in daylight looked like a ball hung from an extremely long fishing rod!
Due to the continually increasing demand, this year we expanded our weekly class program to include a ‘Wrigglers’ class – for kindy and pre-primary aged children. With our Midgies (year 1-4) program going strong for four years, we felt it was time to give them a younger circus sibling!
Also, this is the second year we have done regular sessions with the Marnja Jarndu Women’s Refuge Kids’ Club for terms 1 and 2. We all know that the main circus draw card for all these littlies is getting to hang out with Franque on a Wednesday afternoon!
Well, I’m sure there’s more to report, but I think I should sign off here. If I can speak for our nearly 100-strong circus participants of 2014, I would like to say it’s been a great year. I wish to thank all the amazing support we’ve had from parents, sponsors,local businesses, visiting trainers and artists, BRAC and all the staff andboard of Theatre Kimberley (especially Gwen and Chris!), as well as ourcrew of amazing and talented circus artists and local trainers. We couldn’t have done it without you! Put your batteries on charge over the holidays (whew, I’ll do the same!), and we look forward to working and playing with you all in 2015.