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NICA Presents Born in Sawdust - Review

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by EricaL (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Editor of: melbourne.kidtown.com.au
Event: -
What will become of the little baby, Born into the Circus?
Last night, The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) opened this year's graduate performance show; Born in Sawdust.

NICA Presents Born in Sawdust
NICA Presents Born in Sawdust


NICA is one of eight national training centres specialising in circus arts. NICA's Prahran based centre is Australia's only institute to offer the Bachelor of Circus Arts.

Each year, NICA presents a group performance featuring the graduating performance artists of the year. This year's show, titled Born in Sawdust, explores circus life from the past to present. The beautiful tale, directed by Gavin Robins, following a performing family distanced by work endeavours and emotional grief after the loss of a loved one.

Born in Sawdust c/o Aaron Walker
Born in Sawdust c/o Aaron Walker


This the first of NICA's graduating shows that I have seen, which focuses much more on the troupe, as opposed to individual performance. Yes there are a few solo acts, but the majority of the show features all of the troupe in unison. If you enjoy following a choreographed theatrical story in an intimate show that incorporates the strength and agility of circus skills, you will love Born in Sawdust.

The story follows a group of circus artists living in a bygone time, trying to reach the top of their career. Early on, two characters fall in love and have a baby girl. The baby girl is 'Born in Sawdust'; a Russian phrase used to describe someone born into the circus. What will become of the little girl, growing up with a father engrossed in his career to become a top circus clown? What happens when a key trainer and mentor passes away? How will the troupe and small family deal with such grief? Interestingly, director Gavin Robins drew inspiration from a local source for this part of the story; NICA trainer Kostya Ibraguimov sadly passed away last year.

Born in Sawdust c/o Aaron Walker
Born in Sawdust c/o Aaron Walker


The story, which celebrates the rich history of performing artists and their trainers, uses digital technology to depict shadows of the past with live performers of the present. Digital projections seen throughout the show were developed by Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (Film and TV) students from the Swinburne University of Technology.

Born in Sawdust is split into two halves. The first half of the performance sees the companionship of the two lead characters, the arrival of their little baby and a sad farewell. After a twenty minute interval, the second part of Born in Sawdust sees the little baby grow into her role of a successful and funny clown.

Key performances are Elke Uhd spinning wonders on the Cyr Wheel, Corie Hurry's coy crate sack and chair balance act, and Simone Salle's fat clown hilarity. The clever shadow effects work really well to portray the life of upcoming circus stars that might battle with the expectations of their strict trainers, and the troupe's drunk bar scene is a hoot.

NICA Born in Sawdust
NICA Born in Sawdust


Book in to see NICA's 2015 Graduate show Born in Sawdust, at NICA National Circus Centre in Prahran, on until 28 November 2015. Family friendly, although parental guidance recommended (PG). Tickets from $25, book here.
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Why? Tomorrow's future circus stars final performance
When: 18 - 28 November 2015. W-F 7:30pm. Sat - 1:30pm & 7:30pm
Phone: (03) 9214 6975
Where: NICA National Circus Centre, Green Street, Prahran
Cost: Adult $36, Concession $29, Child U16 $24
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