Circus maestro Azaria Universe has a fantasy. The creative director of contemporary circus act The Candy Butchers says while she has never worked in a circus with animals, she would like to include a horse one day.

My fantasy is about doing my hula-hoop act on horseback, she says during a break in rehearsals for the new show The Candy Butchers -“ A Circus Sweetmeat at The Studio at the Opera House.

Most of the contemporary circuses generally don’t have animals in them, but I think there is space for that. Maybe there is going to be a circus comeback, maybe with domestic animals.

For the time being, audiences of The Candy Butchers -“ A Circus Sweetmeat will have to be content with the hula-hoop act and many other physical feats when the show opens on 16 November. Universe stars alongside Derek Ives, Jesse Love and DJ Garner in this show which was the hit of last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival.

The Candy Butchers -“ A Circus Sweetmeat is based on the world of the sideshow, delving into old-time circuses and physical storytelling.

The show does have a narrative and it goes on a journey with four characters who interact with each other, she says. The show then turns in on itself as the characters go through their various changes, all while the audience eat their fairy floss.

Universe, who also performs in the cabaret act The Burlesque Hour, says she likes shows that challenge the conventional image of the word circus.

I like it when the performance leaves the ground and it introduces an element of risk and excitement, with the audience wondering, -˜What else is possible?’

And she says if a sexy twist can be added to the action, then all the better.

I think whenever you see someone working really hard physically with their bodies, or two girls on a trapeze together, then that is open to interpretation, she laughs. This is not a gymnastics display and we have everything packed in there, and the way it is packaged is gritty.

Universe, who at 32 is acknowledged as something of a veteran of the contemporary circus scene, was one of the pioneers of the old Club Bent days at The Performance Space and performed at Mardi Gras.

I did a couple of shows at Mardi Gras, performing en masse on stage with girls climbing on top of each other, she laughs. That was Mardi Gras in the Wicked Women days, which had a bit of a freakshow vibe to it.

I was also doing all kinds of performing. I danced in Penny Arcade’s show Bitch! Dyke! Fag Hag! Whore! for two years, as well as working in Drag Trade with Miss 3-D. I also worked with Groovii Biscuit, and with Lana Turnip, and that takes drag into a whole different stratosphere.

I was doing drag as a girl dressing as a boy dressing as a girl, and as a girl dressing as a boy, and then as a girl dressing as no one was too sure. I loved the style of all of it.

The Candy Butchers -“ A Circus Sweetmeat plays 16-27 November at The Studio at the Sydney Opera House. Bookings on 9250 7777.

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