September 3, 2021
Fire sculptures, outdoor performance and swinging trapeze were just a few of the workshops on the programme at The Circus Village during Welsh Focus Fortnight.
Up Side Down Circus is excited to be a project partner for the six-week event, which is currently taking place near Cardiff and aims to bring the circus sector together.
The organisers said: “The village is the perfect environment to explore what we do, how we learn and test new ways of doing things, while celebrating every aspect of the circus art form we share.”
Welsh Focus Fortnight began on August 13 and was the first part of the programme, which continued with teaching and training and working outdoors.
Other workshops on the site near Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan, will cover digital circus, creative rigging and professional development.
Up Side Down Circus co-founder Tammi Brown ran a web spinning workshop last week and has been involved in coordinating the teaching and training programme.
Community member Megan Lloyd took part during Welsh Focus Fortnight. Megan is a dancer and teacher in Bharata Natyam – a form of Indian classical dance.
She said she was “smitten” with aerial as soon as she tried static trapeze at NoFit State years ago. She then tried her hand at aerial hoop and really enjoyed the social side of the class.
Megan, who is also a storyteller and community artist, started classes at Up Side Down Circus not long after the training space opened in 2017.
“I signed up to The Circus Village because it offered the chance to experience different disciplines,” she said. “I could spend a week totally immersed in circus.
“As an enthusiastic amateur, I can only mange to get to one class a week. Now this was a chance of a week of classes and in different disciplines.”
Megan 57, from Canton, Cardiff went to as many workshops as she could during her stay, including acro dance, aerial straps, bubble making, handstands, knife throwing, rope, Spanish web and swinging trapeze.
She also performed in an impromptu cabaret, trying out a mixture of storytelling, Bharata Natyam and aerial hoop for the first time in front of an audience.
“I threw something together quite quickly,” she said. “But now I know it is possible and with work and practice I might be able to use it in my performance work as a storyteller.”
Megan said her favourite part of the experience was having the opportunity to try so many different skills and she’s particularly keen to have another go at knife throwing and rope.
She added: “All in all, the village gave me a chance to try many different things, meet people with so much circus experience and try out something that I will be able to use in my performance work.”
The Circus Village is designed to bring together professionals, emerging artists and community members from Wales, England and Scotland to learn, train and create.
It aims to stimulate new ideas following lockdown restrictions that stopped many circus artists from being able to work in their usual way.
The organisers said: “We want to listen, watch and learn from each other, connect with our fellow circus friends and open up conversations with those around the world who want to do the same.”
The village is inspired by the big top touring lifestyle, with those taking part staying in tents and vans on-site while living and working together.
NoFit State Circus is hosting the event, while other project partners include performing arts company Citrus Arts, youth circus Organised Kaos and circus school Syrcas Byd Bychan.
The Circus Village, which will run until September 25, is funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council England and Creative Scotland and is free to attend. For more information, visit the website.
By Liz Day