It’s our third and final week of online celebrations for our 30th birthday. In this final week we’re shining a light on a project that has developed over the past five years and has an exciting future ahead – the Inclusive Ensemble.
This week we chat with Inclusive Ensemble member and long-term artist in residence Dr Melinda Smith about her experience collaborating with Women’s Circus and share some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and videos of our ensembles exciting new work Momentum that will premiere in 2022 as part of Alter State festival.
You’ve got such a unique background and experience in the dance and disability sectors, how and when did circus and specifically Women’s Circus enter your world?
I was doing a residency at Footscray Community Arts Centre. I was wanting to experiment with harnesses and possibly aerial work as part of the show I was working on with my dance partner at the time. I was lucky enough to meet Franca Stadler (Women’s Circus Head Rigger & Resident Trainer), who has been simply amazing. I had been to some of the Women’s Circus earlier shows, but it didn’t enter my mind that I could be involved. That was around 2016 and I have not looked back since! From the word ‘go’ I felt a whole bunch of possibilities were put in front of me. Franca and the rest of the folks at the Women’s Circus are incredibly open minded and willing to take on board accessibility and inclusion.
Image: Melinda working with Franca in our training space using harness (2017).
What has been one of the most exciting things about creating with the Women’s Circus over the past 5+ years?
Spasmotive; My one woman show. In 2017- 2018 I worked with the folks at Women’s Circus to make my vision come to life. In my Spasmotive development I got to explore many different aspects of circus performance. I totally enjoyed the exploration of harness work. I was able to push the potential of movement while in a safe environment. When I am at the Women’s Circus there are no limits to what I can do, or at least have a go at!
Video: Melinda’s promotional video for Spasmotive (2017)
What have been some of the highlights of creating Momentum so far?
It’s been great being part of a small ensemble of both like-minded people, and people who challenge my perceptions. Momentum has been incredibly exciting to be able to define other areas of circus, like my first experience of group choreography where I could keep up. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to be able to work with people like Devon Taylor, Tarn Scully, and many other wonderful performers.
Image: Melinda and fellow ensemble member Anso Biguet during creative development (2021).
You are very active in the Women’s Circus community, what are some of the things you love about it?
I love the friendships from different diverse communities, I love being on the Board, and I love the Drill Hall itself. It is such a warm, welcoming environment. I certainly miss it when in lockdown! I love the fact that it is easy to get around, the facility is great for wheelchair users. People are very welcoming and it feels like family.
Image: Inclusive ensemble members during development, left to right: Mahla Bird, Creatrix Tiara, Melinda Smith. (2021)
Due to Covid restrictions in 2021 the ensemble had to find creative ways to continue their development during lockdowns. The team took to the digital world to play and create. Check out Melinda and Anso’s creative exploration video:
Find out more about Melinda and her work.
Stay tuned for more info in 2022 about Momentum by signing up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.
Find out more about Women’s Circus Inclusive Circus program.
We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane, deep diving into old shows and getting to hear from some of our nearest and dearest.
If you’d like to see us keep creating for another 30 years show us some love by donating now.