Storytelling through Circus

As well as a writer, I am also a hula hoop and aerial hoop artist.

I have been hula hooping for sixteen years, and two years ago, I took my hooping skills to the air when I started training in aerial hoop, also known as lyra. Since then, I have been creating themed performances combining both apparatuses. Circus has become another method for me to tell stories.

I was inspired to start circus training at the age of seventeen, when I saw an advertisement at my local library for circus classes in Brisbane City. I had no history or experience with gymnastics, dance or sports.

I enrolled in a beginner’s class at the Circa Training Centre in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane City. This course introduced me to a variety of circus skills. I took an immediate liking to the hula hoop. I bought two, and then proceeded to teach myself to hula hoop in my backyard. I learned most of my skills by watching YouTube videos and was inspired by my collection of Cirque Du Soleil DVDs. One of my favourite hula hoop performers was Elena Lev in Alegria :

Over the next couple of years, living between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, I continued my training at Circa, and also started taking classes at Vulcana Circus (formerly Vulcana Women’s Circus). Besides hooping, I trained in acrobalance, aerials (silks/tissu, trapeze etc), stilt-walking, Chinese pole, and performance act creation. My very first performance was at a talent competition at Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast, and soon after that I performed at the Caloundra Music Festival and Australia Day celebrations. I have since performed at major events from North Queensland to Tasmania, including Brisbane Festival, Royal Brisbane Exhibition (the Ekka), Woodford Folk Festival, Tasmanian Circus Festival, White Christmas (Movie World) and various Vulcana Circus Productions.

A week and a half ago, I debuted an aerial hoop/hula hoop act at the end-of-term Adult Performance Night for students of HAPY Studio here on the Gold Coast.

I first heard Deadcrush by alt-J right here in this very studio during an open training session. I had heard of alt-J and a few of their songs before, but after hearing Deadcrush and instantly loving it, I was prompted to listen to more of their music. I quickly discovered a new favourite band. My taste in music is basically one giant shuffle of genres, and it is rare that I will listen to a whole album from one artist. But alt-J is one of those bands.

I created this routine over ten weeks, as my best friend Meg and I were supposed to go and see alt-J live at the Riverstage in Brisbane on the 20th of September. Unfortunately the show has been postponed to April 2023, but I went ahead and performed the routine anyway, as a tribute to my favourite band.

This routine was tough to create. The aerial hoop segment was a breeze all the way through the creation process, but I was seriously stuck with the hula hoop segment. There are so many quick changes in the music in Deadcrush and it was hard to keep up with the fast pace. Many training sessions were spent dropping and flinging the hoop and me swearing as I chased it around the room. Weeks were passing and I was not making progress. I just could not get just could not get the hoop tricks to flow. I was ready to give it up and just do the aerial hoop segment. But I was determined, so I took a step back, breathed,  stripped back the tricks and simplified the sequences. Finally, things started to flow. I made it to adult performance night at HAPY Studio with an alt-J routine. After ten weeks of what is definitely the hardest routine I’ve ever created, this is the end result.

It meant so much to me to have my best friend in the audience and see me perform for the very first time. Not just for our shared fandom of alt-J, but HAPY is where our friendship really solidified, when she asked to join me for aerial hoop classes.

Maybe, just maybe, alt-J will see the performance too. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll ask me to perform at their show next year. I can dream.

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