An Interstate Sojourn
Sandfly professional development trip to Melbourne and Albury

Posted by Meredith Benke Bell

Alaxandrea has her first lesson on swinging cloudswing, many metres off the ground.

Asha learns tight wire skills from NICA core trainer, Mila, while Aliysah looks on.

Our whole group in front of the Circus Oz Melba Spiegeltent following a tour of the Circus Oz facilities.

At a time when we at Theatre Kimberley would normally be wrapping up project activities for the year, I embarked on a whirlwind professional development tour with five of our emerging circus artists. We travelled to Melbourne and the NSW/VIC border towns of Albury-Wodonga. The focus of the trip was to offer our young artists a sample of what is on offer at some of the top circus training and performance institutes in Australia. The idea is to broaden horizons and bring skills and ideas back home to share with our peers at the Sandfly Circus.  The group trained with core trainers at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) and at the Flying Fruit Fly Circus (FFFC or ‘Fruities’). The trip was also timed fortuitously so that we could take in these companies’ finale performances for 2018.

What a great experience! - which I should add, is made all the more enjoyable by connecting with dear friends who looked after us so well. I think all of our group would agree that it is the personal touch, which, when added to such an amazing level of industry exposure, creates such memorable and important experiences. We were able to take in [former Sandfly] Georgia Deguara’s final graduation show and also sit in the audience at NICA’s presentation day, when she was awarded her Bachelor of Circus Arts. In our week of NICA training, Andrea and Brett, both of whom have visited Broome to provide training to the Sandfly Circus, looked after the group as family. Other Sandfly graduates met us for dinner and caught up with us in the city, giving us their perspective of life in Australia's artiest city.  

In Albury, we caught up with more dear friends – former TK guest director, Anni Davey and her daughter Nellie, as well as the Murphy family, who left Broome in 2015, when their three kids were accepted to join the FFFC.  They are all thriving, with Nellie excelling in school and having just been accepted to join the Fruities in 2019, and two Murphy’s having been cast for subsequent touring seasons of the FFFC show, ‘Junk.’  Many of you would remember Anni from three years of circus residencies and as our zestiest Bust Out emcee ever (you won’t have forgotten her vertical astronaut walk in the Pigram Garden, surely?) This year she accepted the position of Artistic Director at Fruities. We hope to craft some exchanges between the Sandflies and Fruitflies, so watch this space for future fly intermingling!

But enough from me.  Here’s a few words from our participants:

‘For me, the best part of this trip was being inspired and by what you can become and how amazing your circus skills can get. – Airlie Eastwood

‘Wow! What an amazing experience I was lucky enough to be a part of. The Melbourne trip this year has been an educational, exciting and memorable experience that I will be forever thankful for… I have learnt so many new skills and improved on others, I have done things I thought was not possible and for that I am VERY grateful…’ – Asha Vincent

‘Out of the 10 days of being in Melbourne and Albury, I would like to say that training with the tight wire trainer, Mila from NICA, trying out circus areas that can’t be done at home, and seeing old friends again were my favourite parts.’ – Aliysah Conopo

‘I learned many new skills, and I have shaped up my technique and gained interest in wire and tumbling. I have been inspired by many trainers, and I got to go on the swinging cloudswing! With experienced trainers and professionals, I have learned so much!’ – Alaxandrea O’Brien Slade

‘I am extremely grateful for the experience, and hope to pass on what I have learnt…Thanks to the trainers at NICA and Fruities, I was able to better my tumbling and handstand skills. I am excited to take home my new learned knowledge and share it with others. ‘ Freja Gorring

Wishing you all a festive, relaxing and safe holiday season.  We at Theatre Kimberley hope for the same, and look forward to being in touch in the new year!

Categories AAA Publish, Sandfly Circus 2018