CIRCUS Oz may not have any lions, but there’s most certainly some funky-looking acrobats and cackle-inducing clowns to be found.
Celebrating their 35th year of touring, Circus Oz have brought their new feature Cranked Up to Cockle Bay in Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct, for yet another January full of hoops, high-flying trapeze acts and all-round ‘monkey business.’
Ditching the burlesque nature of many other features nationwide, the latest Circus Oz show continues the group’s reputation of being a family-friendly event, while keeping the adults preoccupied with some of the flexibility and positions that the performers are able to achieve.
Maintaining a very industrial theme that mimics the setting of a CBD building site, Cranked Up has a rustic and honest feeling that is impossible not to love.
While some Circus Oz diehards will lament the creative differences between this year’s production and those of previous years, such as 2012’s Steampowered and 2009 Barely Contained, the eccentric passion and engagement found within Cranked Up is hard not to get behind, even if it isn’t as polished as its predecessors.
This new-found passion is mostly found in Circus Oz’s BLAKflip Indigenous recruitment program, which has started to blossom over the course of the past 12 months.
With the organisation wanting to enrich the number of Indigenous and other minority performers in the circus industry, Circus Oz’s Indigenous Programs Manager Josh Bond recently stated that promoting diversity was one of their key priorities.
“That was something we wanted to change. It is about cultivating a pool of indigenous talent … [and] establishing indigenous role models in circus,” he said.
While the show may be a fun experience for the audience with flips, twirls and high- wire acts, it’s next to impossible for anyone to just “run away with the circus” nowadays.
As freelance acrobat, web designer and Creative Arts Director Luke O’Connor can attest, there’s a lot more that goes into the entertainment industry today than at any other time in history.
“It’s a bit more of a process these days” O’Connor said during a media exhibition, while the Circus Oz tents were being erected just before Christmas.
“People are a little bit more freelance, so you might work for one group for a while, then another group for a while. You might focus on university for a while, so it’s not as if you are always going to be with one group.”
However, with freelancing becoming the norm in the circus industry, O’Connor was clear in his belief that Circus Oz was more than just a big tent and more than just a show.
“The circus community is kind of small and… It is kind of like a family,” he said.
“I mean people here at this (three-week long) tent-build every year, I see them every year and some of them have been coming here for seven or eight years.”
INFO: Circus Oz: Cranked Up will be on until January 27 at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, Sydney. Details and tickets via Ticketmaster.
The Circus Oz performers gave an impromptu show for the Star Observer
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