Christian Parr [TAS]

Christian Parr 524x349HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS?
My grandmother bought me a box set of juggling balls for my 13th birthday, it took me about a week to learn from the instructions in the box… I started to go to a local juggling club, and the following year attended a British Juggling Convention… which blew my mind seeing what other people were doing: 7 balls… 5 clubs… 2 diabolos!!! I went on from there to learn those very things myself and have since started numerous juggling clubs and founded the Melbourne Juggling Convention.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
Twenty years on since learning to juggle, I tend to train less on my own personal skills and instead put my energies into teaching the skills I have learned to others. ‘Social Circus’ is the mode I primarily use to teach skills, which is not about just teaching circus skills, but has a hidden focus on helping participants develop invaluable life skills at the same time. This kind of work is as rewarding for me as it is for the participant, which I think is a rare situation in most workplaces these days.

Permaculture is another valuable place that I tend to spend my time. There are a number of definitions of the word Permaculture out there (google it!). For me it’s important because we live on a planet with limited resources and unless we educate ourselves about the issues we face we won’t be able to live like we do today just a few years down the track…

WHAT DOES CIRCUS MEAN TO YOU?
Circus is a magic place, a special place, away from all the ‘norms’ where we are allowed to do our own thing. In ‘normal society’, there are so many barriers and so many limits, both visible and invisible, we are not aware that many of them exist, but in the world of circus there are very few boundaries. This tends to foster a breeding ground for amazing things, for anyone who gives it a go – circus doesn’t discriminate! We can make up our own tricks, we can show off, be silly, or just watch, and it’s all accepted… there’s very little competition, we can work alone, or with others… anything goes! Can you think of anything else that has the same kind of awesome? (Parkour perhaps…?)

WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS CAREER SO FAR?
Creating the Melbourne Juggling Convention is definitely up top for achievements in my circus career… building an event up from a tiny spark of an idea (“Sydney has one, so why doesn’t Melbourne?”), it very quickly started to take over my life in a very good way, and has been growing and evolving since.

Another highlight would be devising a “Family Fun Circus Workshop” program for Slipstream Circus (Tasmania), early in 2011. Designed specifically to help strengthen vulnerable families, the program was deemed a great success through external evaluation and its hoped that many more programs of the same nature will be run in the future.

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
Spending more of my time in the garden and growing more fruit and veg.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING AND WHY?
I love running games during workshops because each person responds completely differently. I also love breaking skills down into tiny little segments, so I can teach every little part of a trick step by step, and very often see the participants succeed at learning them. This year I taught a young girl to do a 5-beat weave with poi. I’d never taught anyone how to do 5-beat weave before but her poi skills were very good, and I carefully went through the process until she got it. It’s super complicated, but after about half an hour of persistent practice, she got it! I was as thrilled as she was!

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?
A dream of mine is to one day create a Permacircus Institute… it’d be located in a beautiful part of Tasmania and offer permaculture classes, and circus classes too. Having already begun working on the Permacircus, and Social Permacircus concepts, I’d love to see them come to fruition in the form of an institute…! You’d be able to come to teach circus, and by the time you leave you’ve learned all about permaculture!

WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS IN THE WORLD?
Simply because of all the amazing things it does for people who are lucky enough to be touched by it. I am one of those lucky people. I have to say that without circus I would probably not have had as much fun as I have had, nor am going to have during the rest of my life! Circus truly rocks!

Copyright © 2013
Australian Circus & Physical Theatre Association