A January Journey
The Act-Belong-Commit Sandfly Circus training and performance at the WA Circus Festival

Posted by Meredith Benke Bell

Amber Brew learns hat juggling from international juggling legend Haggis McLeod during the training week.

Part of the Broome crew pose with 'Circus Rabble' directors, Ken and Angelique, before breaking down camp on our final morning in Karridale.

Ziggy DeBruyn (centre) during a rolla bolla session led by Zane (far right) of the much loved performance trio, Laser Kiwi.

It has become a bi-annual Sandfly tradition to gather as many crew as possible and escape wet season heat for an injection of circus culture in WA’s southwest. 

If there’s any better environment for advancing skills and broadening horizons for circus lovers, we haven’t found it yet. Everyone from beginners to celebrated performers train, eat and camp together at the festival site, creating an environment that offers intimate access to top state, national and international performing artists. While everyone is busy with training and show preparation, the residency time also creates a space for further conversations inspired by the art form that everyone is there for.  Love a show or a new discipline? Then have a yarn over dinner or coffee with the source of your inspiration. Chat with riggers, stage managers, directors, performers.

This year we had 14 participants, aged 6 to - ahem -  40-something for a week of full-time masterclass training and performance. During the training week, students chose from a huge range of circus and performance skills – from ventriloquism to hat juggling to flying trapeze to costume repair. More than 25 classes were taught every hour all day long. 

We worked again with ‘Circus Rabble’ directors, Ken Fanning and Angelique Ross, who adapted the September Broome show from a 70-minute production for 90 kids to a 35-minute production for 12 kids. No small feat with only 7 days up our sleeves! Following the full-house performance, our cast and crew were free to soak up the rest of the festival – 2 ½ days of shows and workshops, all on the one festival site – such a treat!

This project was made possible by Culture and the Arts WA and Healthway's Act-Belong-Commit campaign.

Categories AAA Publish, Sandfly Circus