Circus Showcase 2011 | NICALeft – Stan Ricketson. Cover – David Coombs. Photos – David Wyatt

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The 2011 NICA Circus Showcase is just that. It is a means for graduating students to highlight the skills and talents they have trained to perfect, and a chance for them to potentially secure an agent and impress prospective employers. While, every year, there may be an inconsistency in the quality of individual performances during the Showcase, there is never any doubt that it is consistently a great night out for young and old alike.

The 2011 NICA Circus Showcase is a fun production. It’s easy on the head, and the heart. Across the evening the audience are privy to a broad spectrum of talent, on many different levels. From clowning and hoop diving, to acrobatics and swinging trapeze – there really are a myriad of entertaining moments within this production. Highlights during the show include Emma Shepherd on the Aerial Net, Ikuko Tanikawa on MultiCord and Vanessa McGregor on Static Trapeze. Here, three very different pieces are performed with precision, a clear narrative and an understanding by the performer of how to effectively meld physical skills with a story. The first ensemble piece is also a wonder to behold; reminiscent of a writhing Greek chorus at times, the shapes and moments that unfold are quite beautiful.

As with all productions of this nature, odd hiccups are bound to occur during a performance. On Opening Night the main culprits were prop malfunctions and the dreaded “Snowball Effect”; whereby one little stumbling block can potentially spell ultimate disaster. In the grand scheme of things these obstacles are a great opportunity for a performer to practise “other” skills, and never seem to dampen the spirit of people watching a NICA Showcase. It actually seems to make the audience more supportive, as these young performers are doing things well beyond the realm of many others and minor malfunctions do not detract from how much fun the show is, as a whole.

That being said though, with companies like Cirque du Soleil roaming the globe and the beloved Spiegeltent landing in Melbourne every year, the expectation of the traditional Circus shows that people once had is a thing of the past. Audiences will always love the spectacle, but it must now also come packaged with a honed, pitch-perfect performance. The one thing lacking, at times, with some of the performers in this production is the ability to marry the performance with the physical aspects. Their Circus skills are unquestioned, but audiences now crave the whole apple. The pieces within this production that really hit the mark are those that have an effective blend of narrative, good acting and tricks. The others tend to fall into a grey area and are, unfortunately, just not as enjoyable or memorable.

Directed by Megan Jones, The 2011 NICA Circus Showcase runs until the 3rd of December and is a guaranteed fun night out.


National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) present
2011 Circus Showcase

Directed by
Megan Jones

Venue: NICA | 144 High Street, Prahran
Dates: 23 November – 3 December, 2011
Tickets: $28 Full, $22 Concession and $26 Groups 10+
Bookings: www.nica.com.au