Alumni of NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts) are spread far and wide across the globe working their skills and tricks in shows, festivals, theatres and beyond. The inaugural Melbourne Circus Festival (based at NICA) was a chance for some of them to return to their tertiary training ground and strut their stuff.
Marawa is one such grad. A specialist in hula hoops, trapeze and roller skates, she’s already had great success internationally and now spends most of her time in Europe. Her solo show Exotica, is an homage to some of her female inspirations – Josephine Baker, Carmen Miranda and Uma Sumac, to name a few – and a chance to bring together a bunch of her different routines.
Taken as a collection of stand-alone acts, Exotica is a hoot – Marawa gives us glimpses of her gregarious, pin-up personality influenced by everything from disco to vogue-ing and side-show circus to the Harlem jazz scene. She overflows with bubbly exuberance and playful self-confidence and has the most awesome glittery stiletto roller skates ever seen on a Melbourne stage. Combine that with her solid circus skills and she’s got star written all over her.
You Tube clips of Marawa’s idols and projected text string the acts together but don’t create any cohesion or strong dramaturgy. The material is punchiest as live, five-minute grabs and it’s easy to see how it would drive crowds wild in well-oiled circus tents, lubricated nightclubs and sassy variety shows. Despite an enthusiastic, friend-filled crowd, the half-full, soul-less university theatrette was a hard gig. But Marawa, ever the professional showgirl, soldiered on – giving it all her pouty sparkle and loving us as if we were a roaring, pumped-up crowd of thousands.
2011 Melbourne Circus Festival
Venue: David Williamson Theatre
Dates: 29 & 30 September & 1 October, 2011
Tickets: $20.00 – $15.00