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Our People

Our Staff

Steph Cox

Executive Director

Steph has extensive experience as Producer, Programmer and Production Manager delivering national and international tours for Circus and Physical Theatre companies. This includes a decade of Stage Managing emerging artists at the National Institute of Circus Arts and preparing tours to hundreds of venues across the world for Circa. As Program Manager at Theatre Network Australia, Steph passionately drove advocacy and development for the Circus and Physical Theatre sector. Steph recently finished up as the General Manager of Na Djinang Circus Company, Australia’s only Self-Determined First Nations circus company. Steph has completed a Master of Fine Arts – Cultural Leadership and a Master of Business – Arts & Cultural Management, where her research focussed on wellbeing in the performing arts. In her spare time, she is a devoted aunt.

Hanne Grant

Marketing and Communications Manager

Hanne is a communications and marketing specialist with both a Bachelor of Circus Arts and a Master of Strategic Communication. She also has a prolific career as a circus performer touring internationally and at home in Australia with legendary queer cabaret YUMMY.

Siobhan Callanan

Venue & Administration Coordinator

Siobhan started her career in Theatre in 2007 after completing a degree in Technical Production. She has spent most of her career as a lighting technician touring musicals around Australia. She moved to Melbourne in 2015 becoming an avid supporter and worker of the cities vibrant performance scene. Siobhan has worked extensively in lighting, venue and stage manager positions for companies such as City Recital Hall, Sydney Opera House, Capitol Theatre and Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Regent Theatre, and Comedy Theatre in Melbourne just to name a few. She has enjoyed expanding her tech skills into the world of arts administration - traversing the world of behind-the-scenes support from stage to office. She loves working in a feminist focused organisation that joins many of her worlds and talents together. When Siobhan isn’t working she can be found at the dog park, in her garden or hosting mad dance parties in her lounge room for her gorgeous toddler.

Franca Stadler

Resident Trainer and Head Rigger

Franca has worked in Melbourne circus and theatre for over 20 years in a variety of roles – as a rigger, rigging designer, technician, prop maker, circus trainer and circus performer and director-devisor. In addition to her role as the Women’s Circus Resident Trainer and in-house rigger, Franca works at Footscray Community Arts Centre as a circus trainer and facilitator. Franca has been involved in various capacities at the Women’s Circus since 1995 and brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to the organisation.

Sal Frances

Resident Trainer

Sal Frances has taught at the Women’s Circus since 2003. Sal is also an Associate Artist and teacher with Circus Nexus and trainer with Circus Oz. At the Women’s Circus, they teach the popular New Crew six-month intro to circus program, the ever fun WeFo Teen Flyers classes for 12-17 year olds, and Circus Mixtape (Trans & Gender Diverse only) class. Sal also works with Women's Circus on community projects, helping those who face barriers to discover the joy of circus.

Aleisha Manion

Program Coordinator - Social Circus

Aleisha’s love for storytelling and passion for movement inspires her to endlessly create on and off stage. Originally from New Zealand, Aleisha grew up training and performing with the Southern Ballet Theatre Company before moving to Sydney, Australia and graduating from ED5 International Performing Arts. She kicked off her professional career as a dancer before leaping into the world of circus where she found her new obsession for hanging upside down. Aleisha loves being a part of Melbourne’s vibrant circus community as a performer and coach, and more recently as the Women's Circus Social Circus Program Coordinator.

Ebony Rattle

Creative Producer

Ebony Rattle (they/them) is a queer, disabled performance artist and theatre maker investigating experimental and unconventional performance making. Their practice prioritises collaboration within community; intertwining common themes of disability, bodily autonomy, resistance, queerness and rest. Recent theatre credits as writer/director include Destroyed (2024, Midsumma Festival/Theatre Works), Winona (2022/23 national/international tour, Nominated: Best International Show, Best Two Person Show, Hollywood Fringe Festival 2023), Ring, Ring! (2021, Theatre Works) and BLITZ (2019, Melbourne Fringe).

Our Board

Kristen Bell

Chair

Kristen is an urban and transport planner, working in academia and private practice. Kristen has been a dedicated Women’s Circus member for well over a decade. Her formative circus experiences were through the New Crew (formerly New Women) program at the Women’s Circus. She is a regular ensemble performer in large scale productions and volunteer on community programs. She can frequently be found happily hanging from aerial equipment and other people.

Mel Parton

Board Secretary

Mel is a personal assistant at Lander & Rogers Lawyers, and has worked in law firms for most of her career. She has an appreciation for the arts, and loves watching performances including dance, musicals, and theatre, and also going to galleries and exhibitions. When not doing that, she can be found hanging out at home with her husband and two cats, or in the garden, pottering about.

Eleanor (El) Boydell

El Boydell is an experienced project manager with a history working in the arts, events and education sectors. She is currently working in the Victorian government's Major Events team, supporting projects, funding programs and strategy development. As a freelance creative producer, El has worked to bring creative visions to life with Wit Incorporated, Memetica, Women's Circus, Emerging Writers, Festival and more. El has been a training and performing member with Women's Circus since 2015.

Melinda Smith

Dr. Melinda Smith has over 30 years experience in disability and education. In 2008, Melinda began promoting the health and wellbeing outcomes of dance for people with disabilities. In 2018, Melinda created her first solo work, Spasmotive. The next phase of her work sees her creating a series of audio-visual expressions of life in social isolation. Melinda lives with cerebral palsy and is an advocate of disability inclusion. In 2019 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Deakin University. Melinda recently became a member of the Deakin University Disability and Inclusion team as a lecturer in Inclusive Arts.

Peta Granger

Peta is an experienced retail director and business leader specialising in retail and digital sales, brand innovation and strategic growth. Peta led the Lush ANZ business for the last 10 years harnessing the shared values of staff, customers and the public to prove that ethical values and behaviour drive sales and growth. She has cultivated a large body of international experience across more than 35 countries, bringing a wealth of strategic expertise and proven adaptability to organisational cultures, unique group dynamics, change management, opportunity and crisis. She understands the governance, structure and culture needed to take various sized organisations to the next level, and drives long-term growth and sustainability. Peta is a passionate audience member of circus, comedy and live music, and loves camping and festivals with her daughters.

Amy Lynes

Amy Lynes is a Senior Workplace Relations Consultant with the National Retail Association, a not-for-profit organisation that represents the interests of retailers and quick service restaurants across Australia. Amy is passionate about authentic leadership, and empowering others to reach their potential and achieve their goals. As an experienced people leader, Amy has spent over decade leading Human Resources teams and managing complex business projects. Amy’s broad range of expertise spans the entire people experience; from recruitment to learning and development, strategic planning to industrial relations, work health and safety to employee engagement, Amy is dedicated to helping organisations leverage their people to drive them to success

Maggie Tekell

Maggie’s employment history spans ten years working within the public arts sector. Since 2011, she has held positions at the Australia War Memorial, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Recital Centre, Circus Oz and currently at ACMI. In her current role as Philanthropy Manager, she generates revenue for the organisation via individual donations, grants, and annual campaigns. Throughout her employment history she has built strong relationships, and maintains strong networks with donors, philanthropic trusts and foundations and government stakeholders. In her current role she has experience in the development of fundraising strategies and has successfully built connections with the philanthropic sector in Melbourne. Maggie holds a strong belief in the power of circus and its social purpose model, the successful way it can generate community and empower, engage, and challenge people. She has always looked to Women’s Circus and been inspired with the extensive training programs and the commitment to gender inclusion and equity.

Lisa Jumar

Lisa has two decades of experience in the finance industry, and has collaborated with prominent corporations and numerous tech start-ups. Through these engagements, Lisa has developed a profound understanding of Corporate Finance, analytics, financial modelling, relationship management, accounting, and financial management.

What truly brings Lisa joy now is her role as a business finance coach. Lisa's journey has made her inherently values-driven, dedicated, and yet infused with a sense of enjoyment. Lisa embodies qualities of organization, proactivity, and tech-savviness. Delving into challenges and devising solutions, refining processes, predicting cash flows, and guiding others towards success are endeavours that resonate deeply with Lisa.

Karen Taranto

Karen (she/her) currently works at the peak body of community services, advocating for policy change so that Victorians can live a life of wellbeing. Born in the Philippines, she migrated to Australia as a toddler, and was raised by a strong mother and grandmother, who taught her that joy and community can always be found in dance and music. Karen regularly performs music works in venues and festivals around the country, and is thrilled to bring a diverse mix of lived experiences to the Women’s Circus board.

Our Trainers

Maya Green

Maya came to Women's Circus through the New Crew program in 2018 and was instantly hooked. She loves working and training in such an empowering environment and enjoys seeing kids and adults alike playing and supporting each other. Maya has always been passionate about the Arts and community engagement, having studied classical music performance in Adelaide in 2011. She is also currently studying horticulture.

Emily Ross

Emily Ross has been working at the Women’s Circus since 2006. She teaches on the Intermediate and Advanced Acrobalance classes. As well as being one of our dedicated trainers Emily is also an osteopathy. She loves working at Women’s Circus because of the sense of play, community, and inclusiveness of social circus.

Maggie Church-Kopp

Maggie Church-Kopp is an Arrernte woman who was born and raised in Mbantua (Alice Springs). She has been hanging off trapezes since before she could walk and has a lifelong love of all things circus. She has performed at a variety of festivals including Woodford Folk fest, Wide Open Spaces and Karnidale. She has had the privilege of training with some of the best circus companies in Aus including Circus Oz (Blakflip 2018) and The Flying Fruit Flys (NTP 2019). While she loves circus because it makes climbing on things and people socially acceptable she is excited about the potential this art form has to unite communities and ignite passion in all kinds of people.

Simone Sheridan

Simone joined the women's circus in 2009 and has never looked back! She loves so many things about the Women’s Circus – the friendly community vibe and feminist values means it’s a place where she feels very comfortable. Squeezing classes in around her nursing work, she has tried her hand at general aerials, Chinese pole, doubles trapeze, juggling and handstands, as well as discovering an enduring passion for acrobalance. Simone teaches the acro classes alongside Emily Ross.

Kelsea Blackburn

Keslea joined Women’s Circus in 2015 through the WeFo Teen Flyers program and has never looked back. Over her years in the Women’s Circus community she has been a regular performer with our Red Coat stilt-walking rovers, and was part of the ensemble for our 2019 show THE DRILL working with acro and aerial skills. In 2018 Kelsea launched her own independent clowning business ‘Cookie the Clown’, mixing her love of juggling, stilt-walking, balloon twisting and games to entertain and delight audiences. In 2021 she completed a Certificate IV in Circus Arts at NICA.

Meiwah Williams

Meiwah is a circus performer who is passionate about creating performance through the expression of aerial artistry and visual art. Meiwah has a dance and physical theatre background and has performed with companies such as Legs on the Wall, Opera Australia and Strange Fruit. Highlights from her career span over two decades and include performing at the Sydney Opera house, Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Sochi Olympic games, Map Dance Festival in Malaysia as well as taking her solo show about Frida Kahlo to Adelaide Fringe. Currently Meiwah is busy mum. She is studying Fine Art at RMIT and is exploring the crossover between artistic practice and motherhood.

Dotti Scally

Polish born, Dotti trained sport acrobatics for over 20 years. This got her to World and European Championships. Acrobatics is her passion and she wants to pass her skills and knowledge and love to do acrobatics, balances, pyramids to as many people as she can. "Working with Women’s Circus was my first job after coming to Australia, always will be remembered with lots of warm feelings and great people."

Tarn Scully

Tarn uses dance, performance art and theatre, to explore the power, sensitivity and presence of the body. Her career includes highlights such as a Rope Act contract at The Friedrichstadtpalast in Germany, touring Europe and Asia with Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company (Inclusive Company) and performance work in Aerial Dance films and live site-specific performance, for Arte and Channel 4 (Dance4film) television stations. Tarn has facilitated inclusive Circus and Aerial dance workshops, for the Women’s Circus, Circus Oz and Dance Blast (UK), and co-run school programs for specialist schools throughout Melbourne. In 2017 she was involved in a creative development and collaboration between Extraordinary Bodies (UK) and Circus Oz, and was British Arts Council funded for an international Physical Theatre Chinese pole development with Laura Moy (UK) supported by Circus Oz in Australia.

Riana Popczyk

Riana joined Women's Circus in 2017 through the WEFO Teen Flyers Program and has been hooked ever since. She has had a passion for circus and movement ever since she stepped foot in the space. Her favourite kind of training is acrobalance and stilts. She has a passion for bringing the circus environment to children and teenagers and watching their creativity and passion for circus grow.

Anisah Collins

Anisah has adored being upside down since she found circus at age 5. After training in CIRCA’s Youth Troupe during her teenage years she joined Collective Circus. In 2022 Anisah performed ‘Waitlisted’ by Collective Circus and Alex Mizzen across the stages of The National Circus Festival, Backbone Festival, Brisbane Fringe and Woodford Folk Festival. Other recent performances include CIRCA’s ‘Leviathan’ for Brisbane Festival (2020), ‘Dwell’ for Brisbane Fringe (2022) and ‘Redlight Distancing’ by David Carberry, Chrysalis Projects and Shock Therapy Productions (2022). Anisah has also worked as a roving performer for Vulcana Circus. Currently Anisah is studying at the National Institute of Circus Arts.

Anita Alexander

Anita has taught people of many ages, abilities and in many countries. Anita's teaching includes development of ideas, skills and shows with an emphasis on creating greater body awareness, alignment, extension and fun.
Anita loves helping people develop circus skills, flexibility and strength while also enhancing self confidence, body awareness, self expression, creativity and collaboration skills.

Maggie Clare

When Maggie first came across the colourful, chaotic world of social circus, she knew she’d finally found a space in which to bring her passions together: arts outside the box, engaging with kids, and strengthening community. She spent more than three years learning the ropes in Berlin with renowned social circus CABUWAZI, where she worked as a children’s trainer and program manager. Maggie has also worked as a facilitator of alternative education in schools, refugee centres, and yoga and theatre programs. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at VCA. For Maggie, the number one goal in her work is to create space for authentic individual unfurling, within a supportive group context. Art + people + play = magic.

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