Circa (contemporary circus)

Circa Contemporary Circus
FounderDerek Ives & Antonella Casella (Rock n Roll Circus)
Yaron Lifschitz (Circa)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Area served
Key people
Yaron Lifschitz, Artistic Director & CEO

Circa Contemporary Circus (referred to as Circa) is an Australian contemporary circus company. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Circa produces circus productions drawing on acrobatics, movement, dance, music and theatre that tour in Australia and internationally. The company was established in 1987 and was initially named Rock n Roll Circus, before shifting its name to Circa Contemporary Circus in 2004 under the direction of Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz.[1]

Circa's touring shows span diverse contexts from works for families in traditional arts centres to European contemporary arts festivals. Circa has toured to 39 countries across six continents, and been seen by over one-million people worldwide. In 2014, Circa performed over 360 performances to over 130,000 audience members locally, nationally and internationally.[2]

From its original three-person ensemble in 2003, Circa has grown to consist of a full-time ensemble in three divisions, an administrative team, and a circus studio which offers training programs for schools and general public in Brisbane.


Rock and Roll Circus

Circa's inception was in 1986, when Street Arts Community Theatre commissioned a circus-theatre fused production called 'The Rock & Roll Circus' which performed at The Rialto Theatre.[3] At the conclusion of the project the core group of performers including Antonella Casella, Chris Sleight, Lisa Small, Ceri McCoy, Chantal Eastwell, Robbie McNamara, Richard Teatro, Sally Herbert and later Derek Ives, and expressed interest in continuing as an independent faction to exclusively perform circus. In 1987, led by Ives and Casella, the collective formally splintered off into a new troupe, taking the name of the production and going by 'Rock & Roll Circus'.[4] Originally an ancillary activity by Street Arts, the troupe evolved to performing their own unique brand of circus fused with music and theatre. Gaining its independence, Street Arts discontinued their presentation of circus, leaving Rock & Roll Circus to be one of the leading forces of circus in Brisbane.[5]

With a mission statement of "high energy physical theatre for thrill-starved audiences",[6] the following decade of Rock n Roll's operation was met with much a resounding success, continuing the 'nouveau cirque' movement of combining narrative and thematic elements through physical display. The troupe embarked on its inaugural regional Queensland tour in 1988, and as with the trend of contemporary performance of the time, showcasing productions with a strong political focus on contemporary issues,[7] including disenfranchisement, AIDS education, and youth detention.

Yaron Lifschitz and the transition to 'Circa'

While the company enjoyed artistic success nationally and also overseas, the appointment of Yaron Lifschitz as Artistic Director in 1999 marked a significant shift of focus in the company's repertoire. Lifschitz, the youngest graduate from NIDA's prestigious directing course,[8] saw the company explore circus form and aesthetics. It adopted the name Circa in 2004 From the Latin word for 'circle', Circa also relates to the same word as circus‚ 'in around, about' which "captures [the company's] questing, questioning attitude" and noting its linguistic similarity in many languages.[9][10] With a strong emphasis on dramaturgical, musical and choreographic consideration when devising productions,[11] Lifschitz's creations have earned Circa both international acclaim[12][13] and financial success.[14][15] A diverse palette of music is used in each Circa production, with Lifschitz citing his passion for operatic music as a staple in the company's body of work.[16] To date, the company has performed with both pre-recorded and live music, featuring the score of Mozart, Monteverdi and Shostakovitch, while concurrently collaborating with new artists on other creations.[17][18] During his tenure at Circa, Lifschitz has overseen more than 30 new works for Circa.


Circa has premiered over 30 works since its inception. Current tours, previous creations, and productions that appear in repertory can be found on the company's website.

Many of Circa's works are created either by commission or in collaboration with other global arts organisations. Within the last few years, Circa has collaborated with a number of major Australian arts organisations including Brisbane Festival, La Boite Theatre Company and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.[citation needed]


Circa has received six Helpmann Awards, including the Helpmann Award for Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production for Il Ritorno in 2016, S in 2013, and CIRCA in 2012, as well as numerous other nominations in the category. CIRCA also won the Helpmann Award for Best Regional Touring Production in 2013, again for Festival of Circa in 2015, and an additional commendation of Helpmann Award for Best Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert for the collaboration with Australian Brandenburg Orchestra for French Baroque in 2016.

Outside the Helpmann Awards, Circa has received commendations from the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award[19] in 2013, a Queensland Export Award for Arts & Entertainment in 2012, and a Herald Angel Awards for Best Production for Wunderkammer in 2012.

Following the 2012 collaboration of Love-Song-Circus at Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Katie Noonan released the album Fierce Hearts which contained the musical score and songs which accompanied the show. The highly acclaimed album garnered a nomination for the Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album at the ARIA Music Awards of 2014[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Circa brings its physical theatre to Brisbane Festival". The Australian. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  2. ^ "About Us". Circa. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. ^ Baston, Kim (April 2010). "Jacques Brel and Circus Performance: The Compiled Score as Discourse in the Space between by Circa". Australasian Drama Studies (56): 154. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Vale Derek Ives". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Street Arts Community Theatre Collection" (PDF). University of Queensland. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Rock n Roll Circus History Highlights". Rock n Roll Circus. Archived from the original on 10 October 2002. Retrieved 30 September 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ Heddington, Milling, Deirdre, Jane (2015). Devising Performance: A Critical History. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-42676-5.
  8. ^ "Yaron Lifschitz, Artistic Director and CEO, Circa". The Weekend Edition. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Circa / About Circa". Circa. Archived from the original on 8 February 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  10. ^ "By The Light Of Stars – Transcript". Australian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  11. ^ "A new landscape for new circus". RealTime. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  12. ^ Cloutier, Mario. "Opus: corps célestes" [Opus: Celestial Bodies]. La Presse (in French). La Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  13. ^ Trueman, Matt (19 February 2014). "Opus, Circa & Debussy String Quartet, Barbican Centre, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  14. ^ Maddocks, Fiona (17 January 2016). "Circa's The Return: Ulysses on his flying trapeze". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  15. ^ Gardner, Lyn (28 January 2016). "Circa: The Return five-star review – 'I've seldom seen such grief on stage'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Opera and circus: strange bedfellows". ArtsHub. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Composing for a Medium Less Locked To Music". Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Circa combines opera and circus in ground-breaking show exploring Homer's Odyssey". The Courier Mail. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  19. ^ "2013 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award Announced".
  20. ^ "ARIA Award for Best Original Soundtrack Cast Show Album". Retrieved 25 April 2016.

External links

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