From 7 - 12 June, hosted by Frappáns Cirkuszínház, Hungary. Photos thanks to Robert Haab
A short video from the interactive seminar on the theraputic aspects of Circus, hosted by The Hungarian Juggling Association in Budapest for ENCI.
by Kerrin Tatman
As February was filled with playwriting, March has been packed with circus. Since moving to Newcastle in January, my close friend Rosie Bristow has been pushing me to get involved with Circus Central – the home of circus in the North East.
Circus Central, officially the North East Circus Development Trust, is run by Helen ‘Madame La Bonche’ Averley and her partner Steve Cousins – a multi-purpose centre covering youth work, agency bookings, adult training, research, performance, national development, touring, and community outreach. I have mainly been involved with two strands of the company so far, by working with the youth group – the Five Ring Circus, and participating in the week-long Cirque Music ‘Zig-Zag Universal’ workshop.
I have always been interested in the many attributes of circus, especially from a musical composition and academic point of view, but was apprehensive of actually trying out some of the disciplines myself. But, with Rosie’s encouragement, I found myself attaching (albeit small) stilts to my legs in the first week of living in the city.
Although I tried, and succeeded, to stilt-walk for a short space of time, I was still unsure as to whether involving myself in the performance side of circus was for me; but decided to keep my options open. After all, this move to Newcastle was all about trying new things and finding my ‘niche’. I carried on coming to a couple of the open-Monday sessions to try different skills, particularly juggling, but mainly to accompany Rosie in her aerial act on various instruments. We did begin constructing the foundations for a double-act though, incorporating a duct-taped together double-ended accordion and a huge suit…
Alongside gingerly dabbling in circus performance I began assisting Rosie with her tailoring business, Bristow and Sister – ‘Unusual Outfitters’, which specialises in designing and creating bespoke costumes for circus folk and other performers. As well as aiding her with all administration duties, I have so far helped make a giant lycra cube, stilt straps and a clown ruff.
Cirque Music Week
It wasn’t until March that I became properly enthusiastic about the whole thing, due to taking part in the Cirque Music workshop, led by the wonderful David Insua-Cao and James Keay of Gifford’s Circus. This week of marrying music with circus was the brainchild of Rosie, who encouraged the company director Helen to facilitate it in Newcastle, and with funding secured from the European Network of Circus Interchange (ENCI) it became a reality. I was especially excited to take part as I had previously worked with David as his musical director for the Research and Development 2 of Whole Hog Theatre‘s Princess Mononoke in London, early 2014, and knew what an amazing percussionist he is. Rosie had also been singing the praises of Gifford’s Circus for years after she worked with them one summer as a set design and box office assistant. As the workshop was part of ENCI’s international program, it meant artists from across Europe travelled to Newcastle to take part, and we had representatives from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and France.
The week’s aim was to look at as many different ways of incorporating music into a circus setting as possible, and in particular integrating it into acts in more ways than just as a accompaniment. We spent a lot of time improvising with aerialists, unicyclists, jugglers and clowns to explore different ways to do this. Some techniques included the musicians following the action, the performers following the musicians, the musicians picking particular body parts to illustrate, the performers choosing different instruments to mimic – we found countless ways of exploring this exciting inter-disciplinary platform. Rosie and myself had been attending a weekly improvisational dance and music workshop since February atDance City, so found these experimentations really useful as an extension of that. It was interesting using these methods with children, amateurs and semi-professionals alike throughout the week, and I found it rewarding, albeit challenging, to tailor what we were doing to suit the level of the group involved in a session.
The week began with Rosie holding a workshop on hat making, so that we all felt unified as a band. This worked really well as an ice-breaker before we had even picked up any instruments and we wore the hats throughout the week, both in performance and in rehearsal, to show our unity. This worked particularly well when we expanded outside into Newcastle city centre and performed samba band tunes up and down Northumberland Street.
The most useful strand of the week for me was getting the chance to develop our own acts, as we were split into groups and each had to participate in at least three of the nine shorts being created. The aim was to think as much as possible outside the box and use music in unique ways with circus. Some of the things that participants came up with were truly amazing – from the comical, the musical, and the dramatic – and there was a real range of ideas on show. At the end of the week we put on a scratch-cabaret evening and performed these constructed acts to an audience.
I would say this week-long workshop was essential to my musical and artistic development, and it really opened some possibilities to me that I thought I would not be able to really participate in previously. As well as enthusing me about circus, it aided my improvisational, compositional and musical director skills, and I am now raring to compose a score for a circus production.
by Lilith Schaap
Eleven circus artists from different European countries. Five Spanish. One teacher. Vegan food. A week long training. The subject? Contemporary Dance and Wellness Techniques for a Circus Training Practice. With at the end of a week of training… a circus festival in the little town Sot de Chera. The week is led by Roseta Plasencia Fenollosa. She has a background in acting, dancing and
choreography and shares her knowledge during the week. Her interest in the body and its limits made her explore different circus and wellness techniques. She is specialized in trapeze and yoga. During the week Roseta teaches various techniques for stretching, manipulation and body awareness. She uses exercises from Pilates, Yoga and Contemporary Dance.
There are choreographed dances that the students practice during the week. Every day the movements get more elaborated and complicated. Students master more and more. Playful dance exercises make a good balance with the choreographed dancing. There are a lot of improvisational exercises around weight, rhythm, balance and unbalance. At the end of the day the students look forward to relaxing their bodies with stretching, massaging and manipulation.
The KAOTIK festival takes place in Sot de Chera, a little village nestled in the mountains of the surrounding national park. It is the third time the circus festival is held. Artists and visitors come from far to attend the festival. On Friday evening bonfires light up (and warm up!) the town. A music group meanders through the narrow streets. People gather and while dancing follow the musicians. At the small square of the town the orchestra stops.
The festival consist of a collaboration between Hogueras and the circus. Concerts, a market, parades, cabaret and fire make a wonderful mix and complete each other. The weekend is full of activities. A dazzling circus show with three sensual presenters, Czech jugglers with enormous mustaches, luminous hoops lighting up the stage in changing shapes. Workshops in acro-yoga, urban dance and acrobatics. Devils walk through the streets while their fireworks rain down on the audience. The stalls on the market sell handmade soaps, cakes, incense and belts from recycled tires. Concerts from big bands to single singers fill big and small stages.
The entire week is a mixture of learning, sharing experiences, inspiration and art in different forms and shapes. People leave with new bonds, new skills and good memories.
by Bara, Cirqueon
Based on previous cooperation of Cirqueon and the Arts and Design Faculty in Pilsen, we proposed to organise a workshop connecting circus skills and multimedia techniques. We brought a group of 17 international circus people consisting of jugglers, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, tight wire walkers, one musician and one lighting designer and mixed them with students of
multimedia and animation. In the end, the group grew up to 25 participants! They were divided to four smaller groups working on their own little projects that were to be presented on the last day. All teams consulted their work with French theatre director and dramaturg Véronique Caye who was invited to lead the workshop.
The themes chosen by teams were “Voices” focusing on the inner voices of performers before their acts, “Numbers” working with Pythagoras´ theory of importance of numbers in geometry and all nature. “Dream team” tried to find the boundaries between dreaming and reality and “Line” performance chose digital noise and affects of technical development on human relationships.
Everyone knew there was not much time. Decisions had to be made quickly and teams of people who haven't met before had to agree on everything – theme, circus and multimedia techniques used, sound and light design etc.
First two days were hectic and a little nervous but during third day all teams found their way and were successfully working on the presentations. Fourth day was more about technical details and finishing of video materials. The last day we went through technical run-trough, set up all lights, projectors and circus equipment and invited students from the university to see what we did in only four days.
And saw a great forty minutes long presentation of four ideas developed by hard working teams of circus and multimedia people! Nobody expected that this much can be done in only four days of work. We keep getting positive feedback from everybody and hope to organise another workshop like this in near future.
To see preparations and presentations themselves, watch video we took and streamed online:
Photos from the Multimedia in Circus course taught by Veronique Caye. The workshop was organised by Cirqueon and the Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Czech Republic.