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Circa brings animal kingdom to APAM

Since 2004, Circa has been the vanguard of new circus, producing award-winning works that bring together the artforms of circus, movement, dance, theatre, music, opera, and video. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, Circa's performances have toured to 33 countries across six continents. The Brisbane company also collaborates on programs with schools and partners throughout Queensland and hosts community workshops for children, teens and adults. In the lead up to Circa's performance of The Carnival of the Animals at the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) this month, we invited Yaron to reveal what audiences can expect when the circus ensemble stampedes back into town...


What inspired you to incorporate Camille Saint-Saens’ composition The Carnival of Animals into your production? 

Carnival of the Animals was commissioned by the Queensland Performing Arts Centre's (QPAC) Out of the Box Festival for children and was inspired by Camille Saint-Saens’ classical musical suite featuring fourteen different animal types. We wanted to bring this explosion into circus and use it to explore this line between human and animals. The music is a wonderfully warm, human-natured piece that, at its core, judges no one. Carnival of the Animals is a work made specifically for children but it doesn’t dumb it down in any way. It is an accessible, engaging work for everyone.


Which came first: the music or the concept for the production? 

This show was based on the piece of music by Camille Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, which is 25 minutes long. Then we found a fantastic sound composer/designer, Quincy Grant, who built up Saint-Saens' classic with other music to last about 50 minutes for the show. He did such an extraordinary job that you can't tell when Saint-Saens begins and ends. 


How quickly does a work come together from conception to completion?

It varies from show to show. Carnival of the Animals took around 18 months from the first conversations with QPAC and the key artists, to the start of creative development, to when it first premiered on stage at QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival in 2014. A work at Circa is never really completed, it adapts and grows for each season, each venue and each cast that performs it. 

Carnival of the Animals by Circa. Photo by Justin Nicolas, Atmosphere Photography


What kind of cross-art forms do you use in your work?

To create this show, Circa collaborated with key artists including composer Quincy Grant. We worked with Michaela French to create the animation, which was very detailed and is as much a part of the show as the seven live performers who interact with it. Many of Circa's shows involve cross-artform collaborations including opera, music, and video design. 


What do you have in store for your performance at APAM 2016?

We will perform a 20 minute excerpt of Carnival of the Animals. While Circa's work has been seen in 34 countries, there are always new markets and opportunities, and this show opens up the possibilities of reaching new young audiences across the world. 


APAM delegates can catch Circa on 23 February, 2:30-3:00pm at the Concert Hall, QPACJoin the conversation with #APAM2016. 

Connect with Circa on Facebook and Twitter, or visit the Circa website. Read our Circa case study.

Check out our other Q&A Profiles with the Queensland artists/companies showcasing at APAM in 2016: Kate McDonaldLiesel Zink, Luke JaanisteThe Farm.