Circus Oz initiated the Blakflip programme of which Chasing Smoke was born. Blakflip over the years has acted as a gateway for some of our indigenous artists who now currently work in the circus industry. The Circus Oz Blakflip programme produced the creation of Chasing Smoke.
Chasing Smoke was born out of Circus Oz’s BLAKflip, a program that nurtures and actively increases the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander circus artists on stages in Australia and across the globe.
Chasing Smoke is a glimpse into the world’s oldest living culture told through the limitless art form of contemporary circus. Tumbling through life while juggling responsibilities in an age where culture, tradition, land and identity are under threat. The performers ignite the imagination and paint the world that was, that is, and that could be.
Directed by Samoan-Australian director Natano Fa’anana (Polytoxic, Briefs, Casus Circus) an unconventional storyteller who chooses to learn from individuals rather than institutions, Chasing Smoke showcases the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander circus legends in a performance that challenges, amazes, educates and entertains.
How did the collaboration come about?
Natano Fa’anana was engaged to direct the Blakflip programme in late 2016 with the premise of a performance outcome. The outcome was Chasing Smoke which premiered May, 2017 at the Yirramboi Festival. During this period he was engaged independently, however, he wanted this to be a collaboration with his own compnay, Casus Circus and Circus Oz. Although the collaboration didn't eventuate in the way I hoped at that time, the outcome was even better than first imagined. Circus Oz facilitated the creation of Chasing Smoke and Casus Circus now produce and manage it from here on.
Who is involved?
Chasing Smoke consists of sx proud indigenous artists, Casus Circus drive the creative, Yalukit Marnang, our cultural consultant and Cluster Arts, our producers.
Natano Fa'anana, co-director of Casus Circus maintains the creative integrity alongside fellow directors Jesse Scott and Lachlan McAulay.
Ally Humprhis, a Wakka Wakka woman, has a gymnastics background and studied dance atACPA.
Lara Croydon, is a Gudjala Kabulba woman, who has a theatre background, started her circus training with Vulcana's Womens circus and is a trainer at Flipside Circus in Brisbane.
Pearl Thompson, is a proud Aboriginal woman who is still searching for her history. Pearl attended ACPA focusing on dance as a means to learn more about her culture.
Jack Sheppard, is a Kurtjar man who studied at NAISDA Dance College and at WAAPA's Aboriginal Theatre course.
Harley Man, is a Wakka Wakka man who started out in community circus with aerialize in Sydney on Gadigal country. Harley currently specializes in corde lisse whilst studying for his bachelor degree atNICA.
Dylan Singh is a Wiradjuri man who grew up with the Flying Fruit Fly circus and is the son of Australia's modern circus pioneers Tanya Lester. Although surrounded by circus in his upbringing Dylan started his own journey as a circus artist in 2012.
Yalukit Marnang, is Chasing Smoke's cultural consultant. As a show largely based on indigenous stories Chasing Smoke has cultural sensitivities of which Casus Circus needs guidance. This will be cared for by Caroline Martin.
Cluster Arts, arts administrators and producers for Casus Circus. Deb Wilks and Kate Malone have been producing for Casus Circus for the better part of three years. Like all productions as is with Chasing Smoke, this partnership allows the three creative directors to focus on the art.
Where to now?
Casus Circus now continues the journey forChasing Smoke as producers for the show. This is not to say the relationship with Circus Oz is a thing of the past. In fact, Casus and Circus Oz continue the conversation of how we can make our sector more diverse and empowering our up and coming indigenous circus artists.