Talking Circus: Circus Elders

20 January

Riverside Theatres
Rafferty’s Theatre
Corner Church and Market Streets
Parramatta 2150

20 January at 3.15pm

90 mins


One of three panel discussions as part of the Circus City program celebrating trailblazers in Australian circus.

This panel turns the spotlight on individuals who have made a significant impact on the Australian circus industry. There will be a discussion about those who continue to perform and innovate – challenging the notion that circus is an art form for young artists and those who are passing on their knowledge and skill to the next generation of circus performers. We will celebrate and hear from four ‘elders’ – Clete Ball, Christine Danton, Robin Laurie and Dr. Mark St. Leon. The panel will be moderated by Mike Finch.

Clete Ball is a living legend who created and performed with the Bal Caron Trio all over the world including performances on the Ed Sullivan Show and Royal Command. An acrobat and clown, Clete was a master of the ‘Australian Knockabout’. His impact can still be seen today in the work of companies such as Circa, Company 2 and Circus Oz who have adopted his ‘Toss the Girl’ routine – one that has had major influence on circus world wide. Clete was the first trainer at the Flying Fruit Fly Circus in Albury where he lives today.

Christine Danton is the oldest performing contortionist in the world. At 72, she continues to perform her solo show Bending the Rules and participates in contortion conversations internationally – most recently in Las Vegas. Early in her career Christine presented her contortion act with Sole Brothers and Lennon Brothers circuses. She has also performed as a dancer and continues to present her own cabaret and variety shows in Adelaide. Christine is also a motivational speaker.

Robin Laurie was an original member of the Pram Factory, a co-founder of Circus Oz and the first Women's Circus, and a participant in the 1983 Nanjing acrobatic project. She has been a performer, film-maker, director, researcher, dramaturg, writer and teacher. Robin has worked with the East Timorese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Warlpiri and refugee communities on large-scale multi-lingual community performances. She has also worked with many contemporary performance companies and festivals including Melbourne Workers Theatre, Flying Fruit Fly Circus, RocknRoll Circus, Club Swing, Melbourne Comedy Festival and 10 Days on the Island.

Dr Mark St Leon
is descended from Australia’s earliest circus – and show business - family, the Australian roots of which date from 1847. From inquiries into his family’s rich past, Mark pioneered the study of Australia’s circus history and is now the internationally-recognised authority on the subject. His book Circus: The Australian Story was published by Melbourne Books in May 2011. He is the author of numerous monographs and articles on Australia’s circus history and has written biographical entries for eight circus identities for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Mark founded the Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group (“SAMAG”) during his time as Senior Finance Officer at the Australia Council from 1983-94.

Mike Finch
is a graduate of Charles Sturt University’s innovative Theatre/Media course in Bathurst. Mike has worked in shearing sheds, as a pastry-cook, as a juggler, acrobat, associate lecturer and director of large-scale theatre and circus. He co-founded physical theatre company PrecariousandCircus Monoxide, touring Australia in a double-decker bus. In 1997, at age 27, Mike was offered the job of Artistic Director and co-CEO of Circus Oz, arole he held for over 17 years, finishing up with the company in 2015. During his term he was responsible for creating or overseeing all of Circus Oz’s work, annually touring across Australia and the world, from Arnhem Land to Broadway, London to Broome and quite a few places in between. Mike stepped down from Circus Oz to pursuecreative consulting work, freelance circus creation, festival direction andreading the paper.

For a copy of the Circus City program, click here

Note: Registered customers must sign in at least 15 minutes before the start time or their positions may be reallocated to another person.

Photo: Ruth Maddison

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  • January 20, 03:15 PM - 04:45 PM
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