ANDREA OUSLEY  |  NICA News  |  21st October 2013

Rowan Thomas, Ella Horner and I have just returned from a Social Circus Project in Darwin, funded by Cirque du Soleil. We worked with Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre. We facilitated workshops with the trainers, staff and students of Corrugated Iron. Some of the skills offered included Rue Cyr, tumbling, trapeze, handstands and hula hoop… This was all done onsite at the Corrugated Iron training space. We also went to the Aboriginal town camps of 15 Mile, Knuckey Lagoon and Bagot, where we ran workshops with a mob of incredibly enthusiastic kids. All very keen to flip, jump and balance on whatever was available, including both Rowan and Ella.

I also facilitated train the trainer workshops for the Corrugated Iron Staff plus local community workers. These classes where about reflecting on the use of circus as a community cultural development tool…

I would like to thank Rowan and Ella for their professionalism and their willingness to share their wealth of skills. Even when working in overwhelming heat and environments that where extremely challenging, their enthusiasm never waned. They were both excellent ambassadors for NICA!

The aim of the project was to offer Professional Development for the trainers, staff and students of Corrugated Iron, including physical skills, teaching techniques and social circus. Access to training is a huge challenge in Darwin. So the ability to offer new skills, new ideas and new ways of working, was invaluable to Corrugated Iron’s ability to continue to enliven its Circus Arts program. At the same time offering the NICA student/ trainers Professional Development in working with indigenous communities, the Corrugated Iron trainers and students. Therefore having to plan different workshops for vastly different skill sets, teach in an unfamiliar environment and literally hit the ground running!

This is also a unique opportunity for the NICA students to experience the Top End of Australia, where Indigenous Culture is still strong and very present. This chance for Cultural Exchange will  develop their understanding of the use of circus arts as a Community Cultural Development tool.

For Corrugated Iron, connection to NICA and social circus is valuable for a few reasons – much about the feeling part of a ‘scene’ but also when students and trainers (from Corrugated Iron) plan to audition for NICA the trainers and students feel part of the community and have colleagues, at the NICA space.

Social circus is vital to Corrugated Iron’s outreach work and having the opportunity for professional development is essential to the survival of their programs.