How and when did the Ninja Circus get started?
I was invited in 2008 to do a school Holiday Program for 6 weeks in Papunya and I ended up staying for 6 months. During that period I created a show with Titjikala mob that we presented at Alice Springs Desert Festival. The following year I created the Ninja Circus in Ampilatwatja in collaboration with CAYLUS, then in Kintore, and since 2012 The Ninja Circus program has been established in Mutitjulu (Uluru). In 2015 The Ninja Circus opened the circus school in Yulara at Nyangatjatjara College where we have developed a circus curriculum.
What does a normal practice session involve?
It is all about spontaneity, improvisation and determining what the feel is that day depending on which students are present. But we always start with a debriefing/sharing, then a warm up, and depending on whether we have a show or not we do skill development or rehearsal of the tricks plus trying out new ideas, playing and mucking around. And we often end the session with a guided meditation, when place and time permit.
How long does it take to learn the skills you need to be part of the circus?
Depending on the passion and interest of the students and their capacity, to be able to juggle at a performing level can take a few months. Some of the tumbling tricks are ones these guys have been practising on the sand dune since they were toddlers and they are ready to perform straight away. We are often working on learning new skills as the year goes on and incorporating fresh ideas.
Who is part of the circus and how does someone join the circus?
Right now we are based at Nyangatjatjara College so we work primarily with kids living in Mutitjulu, and sometimes from Docker River and Imanpa communities. Kids who join the circus either have a natural talent or a strong desire to learn skills, as well as showing up regularly and actively participating in practice and performances.
Where will the Ninja Circus be performing this year?
We perform regularly in the local area of Yulara as well as travelling to a few big festivals in Alice Springs. We will be going to Garma festival in Arnhem Land as well as the Circus Festival in Mullumbimby later in the year.
© Ninja Circus