School’s out but circus is in

RUNNING away to join the circus has a fine tradition in movies and literature, but for a number of acrobats, trapeze artists and clowns it has become a reality thanks to Fremantle’s Circus WA.

In recent years 10 of its graduates have headed off to Melbourne’s National Institute of Circus Arts: trapeze artist Tain Melendijk entered the holy-of-circus holies, Cirque du Soleil.

With the world-famous troupe soon in town Circus WA trainers and advanced students are all a jitter: “Two Cirque du Soleil members are coming to do master classes,” trainer Lee Burns gushes.

Circus WA has been in Fremantle’s West End for more than 25 years, “an important part of the Fremantle community” says business manager David D’Arcy-Burke.

Success has in large part been down to the school’s juggling skills in paying bills and navigating arts politics: “We survive on our fees from classes,” D’Arcy-Burke says, adding a sponsorship program is in the pipeline.

Sage Clarke (15) from Kenwick enjoys school holiday fun at Circus WA. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

Sage Clarke (15) from Kenwick enjoys school holiday fun at Circus WA. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

Students range from tots in the Tiny Tumbler class to a 65-year-old, Burns notes.

The holiday program is always a hit and birthday party workshops are hot stuff, with a 90-minute workshop burning off the red cordial.

Sliders is a youth troupe featuring 13–20-year-olds and performs regularly, including a gig at the upcoming Fremantle Foundation Ball.

“A lot of time they provide their own music,” Burns says of the highly talented bunch.

Circus WA is based in Old Customs House on Philimore Street—with customised floors, etc—but landlord Art Source is looking to turf it to make way for visual artists (read old Heralds to learn more about that).

A move to the old Navy Store at the base of Cantonment Hill has been flagged but “nothing has been formally decided we are still in discussion,” D’Arcy-Burke says.

“We are working hard to consolidate and looking forward to a bright future.”

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