HOW DID YOU GET INTO CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE?
In 1995 Jean Taylor, a then member of Women’s Circus, ran a series of workshops in circus skills for women aged 40+ culminating in a performance – Act Your Age. After the show the members decided to form an autonomous group, Performing Older Women’s Circus auspiced initially by Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) and by Auspicious Arts from 2006 onwards.
POW Circus was lucky enough to have Kim Baston become the Artistic Director (& Music Director) in 2000 and went from strength to strength under her direction. Annual shows ran for 2 weeks in venues such as North Melbourne Town Hall, rural tours were undertaken and many smaller performances around Melbourne. There were up to 35 members training weekly in music, aerials, and acrobalance and intensives in stilts, African drumming, German wheel, juggling, Bouffon and clowning.
Many women who join POW have had no prior experience in circus, physical theatre or related arts. There is no audition and we will always find something they can do.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
Some members are retired from paid work, others in the workforce, parenting children, some have illness to deal with, whilst others have moved on to careers in circus, theatre or the arts. We have members that travel from the country to attend class or gigs.
We are always looking at ways to encourage new members and have hosted Meetup events, introduced: casual attendance; associate membership for under 40’s; and a free first class.
Acrobalance training is it at the moment but we still do small gigs especially around Senior’s Week. We have stilt walked/ marched in Gay Pride March every year since the beginning; in fact I think we both began in the same year.
Next month we will be performing at Collingwood Town Hall on stilts and German wheel as part of the Celebration of Life multicultural event.
WHAT DOES CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE MEAN TO YOU?
POW Circus is like a group of friends or family and the bond is still there even if we don’t see each other for some time.
POW’s objectives are:
- to challenge ageism and ageist assumptions
- to promote wellbeing and fitness for women over 40 of any sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, experience and physical ability
- to advance the status of women by embracing feminist perspectives and fostering lesbian visibility
- to have fun and work safely
Circus is our way to increase lesbian and older women’s visibility in the performing arts.
WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE CAREER SO FAR?
Performing in the 2002 Sydney Gay Games Cultural Festival at Paddington Town Hall the show -The Maiden Aunt’s Story. The show dealt with loss and resilience in humorous and physically daring ways that inspired audiences to reflect on family, companionship and being alone. Closely followed by our 2012 flash mob circus performance as part of Nilumbik Council Bushfire Recovery project.
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
Some sort of exercise and performing and generally not acting our age!
We have continued training and performing since 2006 without funding or a director! Our acrobalance trainer is Dorota Scally who is now old enough to join POW herself.
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU LIKE PERFORMING?
Acrobalance, adagio, German wheel, stilts, music, impro. I think it is great that we have many performers now over 60 and still rocking a pair of stilts or basing an acrobalance.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS TIME?
Still training and performing as part of POW Circus and with a steady skill base to draw from for gigs. We want new members who want to stay the distance as well as having fun in an intimate, welcoming community circus.
WHY DO WE NEED CIRCUS/PHYSICAL THEATRE IN THE WORLD?
It’s fun, challenging and entertaining. For older women (and men) it is a great way to retain and improve strength and flexibility in a non threatening, non competitive environment.
Find out more about POW, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (POW offers your first class for free!)