18 December 2023

Roll up, roll up! Talent flying high in circus graduates' final 2023 show

| Vanessa Hayden
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Six circus performers

The 2023 graduates of Albury’s Flying Fruit Fly Circus will be performing a special show this week and you’re invited to see the action up close in the brand new theatre space. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

The talent of this year’s graduates will be on show this week when the Flying Fruit Fly Circus unveils its new $4 million permanent performance space at the culmination of the 2023 Borderville Festival.

The Grad Show will be a very special performance and features swinging clouds, towering chair balances, flying cubes, aerials, hoops, juggling, acrobatics, and lashings of good humour and courage.

You can expect an immersive experience in the purpose-built theatre in Albury and a poignant moment in time as the six spectacular young artists perform together for the final time before embarking on careers which could take them anywhere in the world.

Flying Fruit Fly Circus chief executive officer Richard Hull said the new space was a gamechanger for the circus school and it’s expected it will be a magnet for contemporary circus artists and companies from around the nation and the globe.

“It’s a bit of a dream come true. As a company we’ve been dreaming of having a dedicated performance space for years,” he said.

“This is the missing piece of the jigsaw.”

Richard said while the training space needed to be big, bright and noisy, a performance space required a totally different set of priorities.

Inside view of empty theatre

The new theatre has an epic scale and allows for a close up view of the performers in action. Photo: Supplied.

“The beauty of the new space is we have all the lighting, sound and equipment we need set up all the time and we can just walk through the doors and have a theatre environment, it’s pretty amazing,” he said.

“The key purpose is for education and to give students the opportunity to learn this side of their craft with lighting and sound and how to develop an act with all those elements in it.

“It’s about providing a space for the creation of work, for experimentation and innovation.”

From 18 to 22 December, you can see graduates Rachel Phillips, James Wilson, Abbey Szakal, Arthur Hull and twin sisters Natasha and Bianca Hall show off their impressive acrobatic skills during the energetic 70 minute show which kicks off at 7 pm.

Designed for a close-up experience, the inaugural audiences this week can expect to feel a part of the show.

The space has an epic feel to it, which Richard attributes to its height and industrial style.

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“When you are sitting in here watching the performance you really feel like you are on stage with them – it’s really absorbing and quite fantastic – you can even see the fear in their eyes!” he laughed.

He admits it’s quite emotional watching the graduates perform together; a group who have been together for many years and developed skills and talent as well as deep bonds and friendships.

“It’s quite touching watching them work together. You get to know the kids over the years and when you see what they do, it’s such a beautiful thing to watch. If you’re falling backwards off someone’s shoulders you have to be sure that your mates are going to be there to catch you.”

Graduate Bianca Hall was all smiles as she talked about the show minutes before a full-dress rehearsal.

Group of circus performers stand on each others shoulders

Dress rehearsals for The Grad Show gave the performers the final chances to hone their group skills for this week’s shows from 18 – 22 December. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

Like many “fruities”, who are now working all over the world, she started out by joining the toddler classes and went on to successfully audition for a school placement when she was eight.

“The whole show is so much fun to perform, once you get over your nerves,” she said.

“My favourite part is performing in the cube with my sister. This is a new piece of apparatus and something fairly new to us so we haven’t been doing it for too long.

“I also really love Lyra, which is a metal hoop attached to a rope and rigged from the ceiling.

“The show is about all the skills we have learnt and there’s also lots of group acrobatics and yes there’s so much trust which is a big part of group performance.”

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Like many before her, Bianca hopes she’ll land a job overseas somewhere and has her eye on a future role with a cruise line, with twin sister Natasha in tow.

“After our graduation we’ll go out to industry and put ourselves out there and see if we can get a job in a different circus overseas internationally.”

The organisation has a pretty good track record. Last year seven students all ended up in Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, which was the largest number of international artists from any single organisation.

Tickets to the show are $15 and can be booked at Borderville Festival 2023.

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