Juggling changes at circus school

Wingham Circartus students performing at the 2019 Wingham Akoostik Festival.
Wingham Circartus students performing at the 2019 Wingham Akoostik Festival.

Wingham circus school Circartus has expanded and been revamped.

The organisation started by director Jill Watkins in 2009 has undergone a transformation and will now operate under a different model.

Jill will mentor seven trainers, backed by an executive committee and membership association, working together to deliver classes and keep the vibrant art of circus happening in the Manning Valley.

Jill has been running a Train the Trainer program since 2019, selecting circus students for the trainer roles.

One such graduate of the program and new trainer is Vera Cruz from Wherrol Flat.

Vera performs in the troupe alongside her daughter Isabella and teaches women's aerial in tandem with Arwen Walters, secretary of the executive committee.

Trainer Vera Cruz (right) with some Circartus students.

Trainer Vera Cruz (right) with some Circartus students.

"Watching the first aerial performance that Circartus put on at the Akoostik Festival and seeing women looking strong and graceful in their bodies, I knew in that moment I was seeing something I wanted for myself," Vera said.

Equally enthusiastic is fellow trainer Arwen.

"Circartus is a beautiful blend of physicality, creativity and community," Arwen said.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it," she added.

The newly established committee, The CAST (Circartus Association Support Team), a driving force of students, parents and interested community members, is working alongside Jill to continue to deliver classes in the same fun, nurturing environment in Wingham.

As her school reshapes itself, Jill is redefining her own role as director. She plans to teach more next year, focusing on some specialty areas like early childhood and social circus, as well as creating and directing work, and community development.

"If we succeed in this next stage to set up a model that creates ownership and allows for growth, then lots more opportunities will grow," Jill said.

Classes are currently full, but Term 4 vacancies will be advertised via the Circartus Facebook page and email newsletter.

The committee is seeking new members, but if this isn't your thing you can help keep circus alive in the region by being a supporter and joining Circartus Crew.

Membership is $20 per year with a choice of badge from a selection of designs by local artists.