I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published April 20th 2013
Clown Around At These Cool Workshops
When you got angry as a child, did you ever tell your parents that you'd run away and join the circus? As long as circuses have been around they've exerted a magical influence over mere, 'everyday' mortals. Colourful, daring and flamboyantly avant garde, their image epitomises a romantically itinerant life on the fringe of mainstream society, full of larger-than-life characters.
Circus Amok jugglers in New York City. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by David Shankbone).
Despite the fact that the world is constantly changing, circuses have managed to maintain their popularity and if anything, there are more around now than when I was a child, many years ago. In addition, over recent years various workshops have popped up everywhere claiming to teach circus skills, so these days you can try out some of your favourite circus trick safely, under the guidance of trained performers.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Fredrikborgstrom).
Whether you yearn to mesmerize your friends with your trapeze skills, get into some serious juggling, or make the crowds bellow with your clownish antics, there's sure to be just the workshop that you're looking for here in Perth. Following is a list of some of the best places in Perth to learn traditional circus skills so that when you finally get around to joining the circus, you'll be able to contribute in a very practical way. If you're determined to follow through on your childhood threats, then these are the places to begin.
WA Circus School Situated in the heart of beautiful breezy Fremantle, the WA Circus School holds a dazzling assortment of classes for learners of all ages throughout the year. Classes for children and teenagers are especially popular, and are held during each school term as well as the holidays. The skills which are taught in these programs depend on the age of the participants, but can include basic circus skills (such as juggling, floor work, plate spinning and tumbling), acrobatics (including trampolining, hand balancing, tumbling and group work), aerial skills and acrobatics. Of course, there is also much more.
For littlies, three to four years old, there is a special Tiny Tots class, while teenagers also have their own selection of classes. There are also workshops held for adventurous grown-ups, which include skills such as aerial conditioning, trapeze, handstands, hoops and juggling.
Suitcase Circus Based centrally in Maylands, the Suitcase Circus is often considered to be the original circus-in-education specialist here in Perth, having established their programs way back in 1975. The Suitcase Circus offers a terrific selection of circus-centred programs focused primarily on school groups and community festivals. These include a Junior Circus for early childhood groups, Circus Day workshops, School Circus Troupes, School Circus Residencies and the immensely popular Have-a-go Show, a unique interactive show which can be especially tailored for all kinds of groups. If you're an educator who is always looking out for exciting and stimulating activities for your students, this could be just what you're looking for. To find out more, check out the Suitcase Circus website or call them on 0433 958 558
Cirquest Cirquest is another wonderful circus skills school, and holds various classes throughout the Perth metro area. Regular venues include Perth City Farm, the Chapel Space in North Perth, Subiaco PCYC, Kensington PCYC and Hilton PCYC, and the classes include general circus skills, hula hoops, acrobatics, aerial skills and juggling. Learners of all ages and levels of ability are encouraged to have a go, and classes range from those for very young children up to teenagers and adults. At times Cirquest even holds 'Mums and Bubs' classes.
Juggling beanbags. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Baikonur).
To find out more, have a look at the Cirquest website. They even have an on-line shop for all your special circus skills needs.
Kinetica Fusing together elements of dance, circus, yoga, martial arts and gymnastics, Kinetica is a talented performance troupe which also holds a range of awesome circus skills workshops from its base at the Cyril Jackson Recreation Centre in Ashfield. Kinetica's Introductory Circus Skills courses are held over eight weeks, with shorter three-week courses focusing on single skills such as aerial conditioning or juggling. Although the majority of Kinetica's courses are aimed at adults, they also hold Introductory Circus Skill courses for young people aged from 9 to 16 years old.
To find out more, check out Kinetica's website, their Facebook page, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Sarah on 0409 073 750.
Flying Heart Productions
A performance company specialising in contemporary clown theatre, Flying Hearts Productions is the place to come to if you've always wanted to be a clown. Incorporating movement skills, puppetry, music and circus skills, Flying Hearts aims to train its students in the ways of articulating the human experience through the irreverent yet sensitive perspective of a clown. At different times, the company offers a variety of workshops for both adults and children, as well as residential intensives at which participants can hone their performance skills.
Perth Fire Group
Have you ever watched the fire jugglers at a circus, and thought: 'I'd like to do that!'? Well, now is your big chance. The Perth Fire Group is a loose collective of kindred spirits who share your passion for fire twirling, object manipulation and other circus skills, gathering together specifically for the purpose of sharing their knowledge and skills with each other and anyone else who may be interested. The group meets every Tuesday evening from 7.30pm until around 11pm at Kings Park and consists of members ranging from total beginners up to professional entertainers. Meetings are totally free. As their website declares, 'Just bring yourself and a smile'.
Every year the group organises a couple of retreats for group members and friends: the Spun Out Festival, which is held in April at Lake Leschenaultia and its Spring Campout.
Check out the Perth Fire Group website to learn more about what they do, or to drop them a line with any queries you may have.
Spun Out Festival
Would you like to spend a few days during the April holidays in a fun, family friendly and creatively dynamic environment, surrounded by nature at her most beautiful, and lots of interesting people? If so, then the Spun Out Circus Festival may be just the diversion that you are looking for.
Now in its ninth year, Spun Out is the Perth Fire Group's annual fire and circus skills weekend, and includes heaps of fun and fascinating workshops on various topics including poi, staff, fire eating, juggling, stilt walking, uni-cycling, acrobalance and much, much more. Situated just 500 metres from Lake Leschenaultia, there is also ample opportunity for swimming and sunbaking.
The festival will be held at Camp Leschenaultia which is situated at 400 Leschenaultia Place in Chidlow, just 45 minutes east of down-town Perth. Accommodation is either in dormitories or camping in your own tent or campervan. However, regardless where you stay, the Spun Out ticket price is the same for everyone.
For more information about the Spun Out Festival, including prices, go to this website.
Perth Unicycle Club
If trapeze skills, clowning and fire juggling aren't really your thing, perhaps you'd like to learn how to ride a unicycle. Unicycles are single wheeled, pedal-powered bikes, meaning that their rider needs to possess a very good sense of balance. Although they can be purchased at various circus suppliers, the Circus Shop in Maylands or Ace Cyclery in Palmyra have been highly recommended. Once you purchase your own unicycle, the WA Circus School is the place to go for lessons. To make friends who share your new hobby, contact Perth Unicycle Club, or the circus skills clubs at the UWA and Curtin University.