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Towards Inclusive Circus

momentum development Mahla Bird and Mel Smith
momentum development ensemble on ground rolling around smiling
momentum development Mahla Bird Tarn Scully Larissa McFarlian
momentum development Mahla Bird and Naomi Francis doing wall running
momentum development Naomi Francis and Larissa McFarlain

Art making is our declaration for a more just and equal society

Women’s Circus Inclusive Ensemble is an eclectic team of disabled and non-disabled artists working in circus, dance, theatre, drag and magic. 

The ensemble draws on collaborative models of art making exemplified by Weave Movement Theatre, Back to BackRawcus, and the UK’s renowned Extraordinary Bodies. 

Slide images above: Inclusive Circus Ensemble in development sessions 2021.

Two people conversing.

“While being mindful of the physicality access – I also found myself being playful with imagination inside my head, how can i push these images to the surface and make them a reality for the public, and us to experience?” Mel Smith (Inclusive Ensemble Member), pictured above with Head Rigger and Trainer Franca Stadler.


Project history and achievements 

  • 2021: Ensemble in development of new work MOMENTUM, a bold new contemporary open-air circus work activating the Arts Centre Melbourne’s public spaces.  
  • 2020: Women’s Circus forms The Inclusive Circus Ensemble. Recipients of the Public Realm Performance Commission. 
  • 2019: artist in residency programs for artists with disabilities continue. Research and findings from 2018 to informed the design or our immersive show THE DRILL.
  • 2018: Associate Artist Katrina Cornwell evaluates program, including a series of masterclasses and intensives Women’s Circus delivers in partnership with Weave Theatre. Read Katrina Cornwell’s paper.  
  • 2017: Women’s Circus awarded fellowship through The University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute to research our inclusive practice and evaluate a six-month circus program for disabled artists funded by the City of Darebin. 
  • 2016: Women’s Circus launches ‘Groundwork’ – a program providing creative support through residencies and subsidised use of training centre for women, trans and non-binary identifying artists with a physical disability. This culminates in workshops, creative development showings, and public forums with conversations around inclusive practice. 


Are you a disabled circus artist and interested in being part of future creative projects? We’d love to hear from you! 


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