April 03 News

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Artmedia - Physical Theatre News - April 2003

Where has the National Institute of Circus Arts gone wrong?

Clown Masterclasses: Sydney, Ottawa, Connecticut

Australian National Circus & Physical Theatre Association

Berlinxchange Workshops,­ Omeo Dance, Sydney
Tempo, Auckland's Festival of Dance, New Zealand
Conundrum's monthly show in Melbourne, Australia

Never-met brother, found running Freemantle Street Fest

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Artmedia News

Welcome to the April edition of the Artmedia newsletter, a
publication with an Australasian focus and a global perspective.

This month I break with my inclusive, community building practice,
to write an editorial on the Australian National Institute of Circus
Arts, now in its third year of operation, because having just seen
a student performance, I find no clown work in sight.

This is in stark contrast to CircoArts in New Zealand, now in their
seventh year, who have just flown me over to teach a specialist
clowning program to their students. What a wonderful school.
Australian subscribers might also like to get a copy of the current
Big Issue magazine which has an interesting article on the 'Secret
Life of Clowns'.

In Playspace news I am in the middle of a clown masterclass in
Melbourne, and I have venue details of a new two-day workshop
in Sydney next week, and info on the Ottawa and Connecticut
masterclasses which I am teaching in the next two months, which
are both filling fast, with the Ottawa earlybird deadline next week.

As promised last month, we feature the Australian National Circus
and Physical Theatre Association, and have details of how to join
the organisation.

In the networking, we have a dance focus this month, with
information on the Berlinxchange workshops at­ Omeo Dance in
Sydney, and information on the Auckland Festival of Dance in
New Zealand.

In the noticeboard section, Siobhan, who several months ago
was looking for her never-met acrobat half brother, reports how
she found him running the Freemantle Street Festival in Western
Australia, through the notice in this newsletter.

We aim to provide an avenue of communication for the growing
physical theatre community, so please send us info for inclusion in
this newsletter. Please also forward this to somebody else who
may be interested.

Artmedia Site Clients - check them out at www.artmedia.com.au

Sydney Aerial Theatre Assn have information on their classes,
and performance projects. www.artmedia.com.au/aerial.htm

Impromptu Theatrix run impro classes in Sydney, specialising
in Commedia. www.artmedia.com.au/improvisation.htm

Hemlock Mejarne is an acrobat, stilt-walker, who has a
large range of skills. www.artmedia.com.au/acronym.htm

Broadway and Co. - are a contemporary Australian circus
company. www.artmedia.com.au/broadway.htm

Got it Flaunt it! are a performance duo who specialise in event
invigoration. www.artmedia.com.au/gotitflauntit.htm

Circus Unique offers children's workshops and tailored
entertainment packages. www.artmedia.com.au/circusunique.htm

The Physical TV site has info on Richard James Allen and Karen
Pearlman's Dance Films. www.artmedia.com.au/physical_tv.htm

On the Artmedia site you can also find a list of links to performers,
companies, resources and festivals all over the world, and you
can subscribe to this newsletter and find a copy of the latest issue.

Editorial: Where has NICA Gone Wrong?

The Australian National Institute of Circus Arts is a BA degree
in Circus Arts run out of Swinburne University in Melbourne,
Australia, which was set up, following years of lobbying by many
people with the Australian circus industry, because although there
was training at high school level, and ad hoc studio based training
in circus in Australia, there was no tertiary level training.

Now in it's third year of operation, Pam Creed, the Director
likes to make the point that, having not yet graduated any students,
the success or otherwise of the course can not yet be judged.
However, as the only such training in the country, it carries the
expectations of the industry to properly prepare students for the
Australian circus industry, and not for the Chinese or the Russian
circus industries.

And to asses whether it is properly fulfilling this function we have to
ask, what is special about the Australian circus as opposed to its
more established cousins overseas. And the answer is that the
industry here has really been shaped by flagship companies like
Circus Oz, who have pioneered a new form of circus theatre.

When I tour to Europe with my solo show, as I have done nine
times, I always hear the question, where are all the Aussie groups
coming from? And yet it is not really that there are so many Aussie
groups, it's just that the ones we have are making an impact, and
they are doing it because they are working with a form of circus
based physical theatre which is powerfully immediate, and owes a
lot to the clown art form.

So when I see the latest show from the NICA students, called 'On
Edge' and I see no clown in the whole show, and I put this alongside
the information that every person at the Sydney audition for NICA
at the end of last year, said that they wanted to work with clown or
character work, I see it as a failure of management in the course.

The students in the show have wonderful physical skills, but they
are provided with no clown training in the first year of their studies,
and only a few hours in their second year, and as a result have no
opportunity to develop their skills.

Clown work requires specialist training, and it must be given
equal prominence with the discipline of circus skills to properly
develop. Much clown training goes the other way from that of
rigorous physical skill development, requiring an openness, and
emotional development and creativity, and if practiced alongside
the physical skills, the two branches compliment each other.

We have to remember that we are talking about the Australian
Institute of Circus Arts, and yet what we are getting is some pale
imitation of the Chinese circus. This does no service to the local
circus industry which has done so much to set up the course, and
the management should be held accountable for this failing.

Playspace - Clown Masterclasses, Australia, Canada, USA

Alan Clay will teach a series of clown masterclasses over the
next few months.

Sydney Clown Masterclass, Australia - April 22 and 23
(2 days) Cost: Aus$300 (full). The Flamenco Studio, Unit B5,
1-3 Gladstone St, Newtown. Enrolments and information

Ottawa Clown Masterclass, Canada - May 21 to 24
10am to 4pm. Can$500 (earlybird, before April 26) or
Can$600 (full). Enrolments phone Brian Wilson, Orbital
Entertainment, Canada (613) 248-8940 or 1-877-269-4897,
email info@orbitalent.ca

Connecticut Clown Masterclass, America - June 16 to 19
10am to 4pm, in the village of Cornwall, only 2 hours from
New York by train. Cost: US$500 (earlybird, before May 16)
or US$700 with food and board, and US$600 (Full), or US$800
with food and board. Enrolments and information contact Martin
Ewen, lurk2000@mac.com or ph America 860 672 2667.

"In the best clown tradition Alan Clay held up a window-mirror
for us to step through and reflect on the patterns, habits and
rituals of our days. It was funny, moving and excellent theatre."
New Zealand Herald

This Clown Masterclass program has been created to provide an
advanced platform for the development and practice of clown skills.
Some students with no experience will also find this course suitable,
simply by releasing themselves to the process.

The workshop provides a physical approach to the clown art form,
exploring playfulness, irreverence, and the freedom of not knowing.
Each day starts with a yoga warm up, followed by exercises to
develop physical and emotional expression, and improvisational
exercises to develop comic timing and audience rapport.

Feature: Join the National Circus & Physical Theatre Association

The NCPTA was set up in 1999 to coordinate the 3rd National
Circus and Physical Theatre Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Through the conferences and other activities the NCPTA aims to
promote a dialogue between performers, directors, teachers,
designers, riggers, managers and other creative itinerants in circus
and physical theatre.

To aid communication within a highly mobile and varied sector of
the performing arts the National Association of Circus and Physical
Theatre invite you to make use of the site to gain and share
information. Contact: circonf@vicnet.net.au

Large Companies = $ 800. pa
Medium Companies = $ 400. pa
Small Companies and Sole Traders = $ 60. pa
Supporters $ 40. pa
Students and Concessions $ 30. pa

To join, go to www.nationalcircus.asn.au click on the category of
membership. Fill in the online form and submit it or download the
PDF version, fill it in then... Post a cheque for the appropriate
amount made payable to - 'National Circus and Physical Theatre
Association: and either enclose the completed form or make a note
of the date the online form was submitted on the envelope. Post the
cheque to: NCPTA, PO Box 361, Norhtcote VIC 3070, Australia.

Networking and Feedback

"Thank you very much Alan for the sponsorship information about
our Australian auditions in the last newsletter!! You are being a
great help. We are planning other auditions in Europe and in the
USA in the fall. I will surely use the newsletter for these." Cheers,
Anick Chartier, Casting, Cirque du Soleil. Find a link to Cirque
du Soleil under Circus at www.artmedia.com.au/links.htm

"Berlinxchange Workshops ­at Omeo Dance - Two weeks of
dance, performance, workshops and discussion between Berlin
and Sydney based artists from 14 ­ 25 May. 'Breaking The Ice'
or 'Mein Deutsch Ist Nacht So Gut' is a workshop in
Improvisational performance practice with Andrew Morrish at
Omeo Dance Studio. Register to Performance Space by 2 May
15 ­ 18 May 10am ­ 4pm $180 / $135. 'Doing The Splitz' works
the terrain between improvisation and choreography ­ in a lab for
experienced movers with Rosalind Crisp at Performance Space.
The workshop consists of morning and afternoon sessions, and
enrolments are open for the morning session only, which is­ a
release-based class running from 11am ­to 1pm. This is $15 per
class/ $60 per week. The afternoon is by selection. Please
submit CV to Performance Space by 2 May. 20 to­ 24 May,
11am ­ 5pm, $210 / $175 (both release-based class and
choreographic lab). An initiative of Omeo Dance (Sydney), in
co-production with the Performance Space (Sydney), Tanzfabrik
(Berlin) and Biennale nationale de danse du Val-de-Marne (Paris)."
For more info visit www.omeodance.com or email

"The Auckland Dance Festival Trust is pleased to announce
TEMPO, Auckland's Festival of Dance to be held 31
October to 23 November 2003. In its fourth year but now
with a new name, the festival has been devised to celebrate
the diversity, popularity and quality of dance in Auckland.
Featuring local and international companies, TEMPOš will
bring together a vibrant and fabulous collection of
professional and community dance events. Sean Curham
Dance and Vacuum Pact - both Auckland contemporary
companies, Compagnie Nomades Le Loft Vevey from
Switzerland and Sue Healey and Company from Australia
are confirmed to participate. Mika's Toa Toa Urban Maori
Pacific Dance Awards in South Auckland will demonstrate
the uniqueness of dance in the region. The complete
programme will be announced in August." Registration info
is available from sonja@tempo.co.nz

"Where can you find a concentrated, creative collision of dance,
physical theatre, comedy, clowning, music and verbal acrobatics?
At..... Conundrum in Melbourne, Australia. For six years
Conundrum has presented a monthly show crammed with some
of the most skilled and adventurous exponents of improvised
dance and physical theatre from Melbourne, Sydney and beyond.
April's exciting program includes special guests: Nick Papas (of
'Born in a Taxi') Hilary Elliot & Lindesay Dresdon (dance, theatre
blending with dada leanings) Daniel Oldaker (virtuoso in the art of
clowning) plus regulars: Five Square Metres: Clare Bartholomew,
Andrew Gray, Michael Hurwood, Wendy Smith, Grace Walpole.
Cecil Street Studio, 66 Cecil St, Fitzroy. 7.00 PM, Sunday, April
27. Cost $7 Kids free." martin@smartworks.com.au


"hi alan, you were kind enough to put an ad in for me, looking for
my never-before-met half brother. i thought i'd let you know that i
found him thru that ad! pretty brilliant as i had been looking for him
on the net off and on for ages before i had the bright idea of looking
for circusy sites. so thanks very much. i havent actually met up with
him yet as hes back in aus running the freemantle street fest. but we
are in e mail communication so thats v exciting! THANK YOU!
best wishes for all yr projects, and big love," siobhan

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Last updated 22nd June 2004