The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA), is undertaking a nationwide audition roadshow in search of Australia’s future circus stars. Head of Circus Studies, James Brown with Vocational Education Coordinator Tegan Carmichael leads the audition search and we had the chance to talk to James before he set off on the national search for the next generation of circus artists.
SAG: Where are you headed with this roadshow?
JAMES: Most major cities, we like to hunt out the best talent that we can train with. So Sydney Adelaide, Perth and here in Melbourne where we had a pre-audition workshop. We held that last month and it’s a great opportunity to people who were not that familiar with the audition process. We took them through what to expect on the day and an insight into what they need to prepare for, both physically and artistically.
SAG: The dynamic between the artistry and the physicality must be broad. Does the audition attract one more than the other?
JAMES: It’s an interesting question and what we get is a really good cross section of both. So people might come from elite sports or that artistic side, like those having a dance background as well.
SAG: What do the auditions entail, how does the day run?
JAMES: We like to assess and test an array of different skills we understand that not everyone comes from the same background so there are group movement, performance, choreography, dance workshops and there are games and other activities. Then we get into the bulk of our assessment which is things like tumbling and flexibility and individual auditions.
SAG: Do people come to you knowing what area of circus they might be drawn to… do they already see themselves as an aerialist for example?
JAMES: As part of the program we have an emphasis on foundation skills so we take all our students through a program that focusses on their handstands, tumbling, and flexibility. Strength and co-ordination is a huge thing to consider.
And once they have done that, then we talk with each individual student and we really help them into their best suited areas, whether that be physically or artistically. And then we have trainers from all around the world work with students to really hone their skills.
SAG: So a BMX bandit might find that they are drawn to the air?
JAMES: Yes absolutely. That’s actually very common. We’ve had elite soccer players become absolute beautiful movers.
SAG: I noticed that sports psychology is part of your curriculum.
JAMES: Absolutely. Obviously we have a huge amount of physical skills that we offer but there is a strong academic rigor. As part of that there is physiology, anatomy, nutrition and a great business course. But I think Sports Science plays into so much of our training … we are always working on how we can progress our students with the short amount of time we have with them.
SAG: You have a Bachelor course (Bachelor of Circus Arts) for 3 years but also foundation courses, the Certificate III and Certificate IV in Circus Arts. So what is the career path of your graduates?
JAMES: Well today we have upwards of 280 graduates touring the world entertaining audiences. They are working with companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Dragone (China), Cavalia (Canada), NoFit State Circus (United Kingdom). In Australia, we have a whole bunch of our graduates up in Brisbane touring with Circa, plus Circus Oz and Carnival Australia.
SAG: The applications close August 24th. And you’ll be in Sydney in four weeks or so after that for the auditions?
JAMES: Yes that’s right, 24th September we’ll be at Aerialize. We have a lot of fantastic talent coming out of Sydney so we are very excited to get back to NSW to see what there is on offer.
We ask auditionees to prepare and act, something that uniquely represents them and shows off their skill to the best advantage.
SAG: What’s the weirdest one you’ve had?
JAMES: Oooo .. so many. One that comes to mind is a young fella who was ridding a unicycle with about 30 pizza boxes! I won’t go into detail about what he did with those boxes but it was a very interesting and unique piece.
SAG: Are they all young? What ages are likely to audition?
JAMES: Anywhere between 17 to 35.
SAG: Damn I’m too old! I’ve been known to wear a spangle in my time but it was all self-taught or peer taught those days!
JAMES: No more. With the introduction of Sport science and the technology that goes into our training it’s much more exciting times now.
Audition Applications close Friday 24 August. Applicants are required to apply via the NICA website. Applicants must apply to audition and there is a $50 audition fee. Entry into the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA)three-year Bachelor of Circus Arts degree is by audition, interview and successful completion of a medical assessment. Auditions take place - SYDNEY: Monday 24 September at Aerialize, 7-9 Close Street, Canterbury PERTH: Wednesday 26 September at Circus WA, 92 Adelaide Street, Fremantle ADELAIDE: Thursday 27 September at Cirkidz (SA), 27 Fifth Street, Bowden BRISBANE: Tuesday 2 October at Flipside Circus, 117 Mina Parade, Alderley MELBOURNE: Thursday 4 October and Friday 5 October at National Institute of Circus Arts, 39-59 Green Street, Prahran