• Eli Joseph

Interview with Damian Gordon from Circus Aotearoa

Interview with Damian Gordon from Circus Aotearoa

Currently preparing for their 10th year of touring, Circus Aotearoa has provided the vital training platform for many of New Zealand's current performing professionals, and continues to provide those same chances for the next round of aspiring aerialists, acrobats, and equilibrists.

The man behind the big top, Damian Gordon, and his family have been up and down the country with their traditional touring tent show. Damian was kind enough to answer some questions for ANZCA about how it all comes together.

What compels you to tour, rather that setting up shop in a fixed location? Touring. It’s what circus does, and needs to do, to continue earning a living for us and the crew we travel with. It is great to take the circus and a crew around these beautiful Islands of ours, making it accessible for every audience, while keeping the traditions of a touring tented show alive in Aotearoa. You're coming up on a decade of touring. How have audiences shifted and changed since Circus Aotearoa started? We haven't noticed a big change in them over our 10 years. What we do notice is the regional and geographic differences in the ways they react to the show, and which acts get the most response. How have you seen the circus community shift and change in that same time? It went through a huge change after the Christchurch earthquakes. This shut down Circoarts, the only tertiary-run circus school in the country. The community were forced to find other ways to learn and train, which also made it harder to fill our crew with Kiwis, and seems to have made the community more competitive and less supportive. We've also noticed that there are fewer male performers around. At the start of Circus Aotearoa, males would outnumber females in the lineup, but now it is more balanced. The way the props are used and presented in style, especially juggling, has shifted and new apparatus have been introduced. So after all that change, where do you think things are headed, for the show and the wider community? For Circus Aotearoa it is a new Big Top from Europe, as well as Matthias taking on a bit of management, which is good. It's great having the kids involved in the business, having them seeing a future in it. The industry is making a slow but steady progress, with lots of studio training spaces opening up all around the motu and the big changes at The Dust Palace. The young ones are coming into their own, with the ones that have a few years experience putting on the own shows. It looks bright to me. So the show itself. What's your favourite behind-the-scenes part of touring? For some strange reason I enjoy the tent work a lot. It’s a good feeling rocking into town and erecting the big top. A couple of days of hard work is good for the soul, and once it’s up, it’s good to have a big top in your backyard. The camaraderie among the crew is an important and beautiful thing, most of the time. Having the whole crew -and a lot of the time visitors- seated around a table sharing meals and a few laughs is always a pleasure. And when you're not touring, what does the off season look like?

For us the off season is usually spent hiding at home on our beautiful, off the grid, 18 hectares of native bush property, and spending time with whanau. Circus Aotearoa survives because it is a family run business. Both the kids have grown up with circus and Matthias is making a career out of it, Artemis is still at school, but still trains and performs when ever she can. Irene with her strength and support, is the rock that the circus is built on. My brother Paddy has kept it running with all the admin, and when he was on the road he kept everyone healthy and fed with his great cooking. What is Circus Aotearoa and the family up to now, heading into spring? We are trying to put a crew together from all over the world for our next tour. We are also organising our new big top from Europe. There is about 6 weeks of preparation needed to get all the trucks and caravans ready to tour, as well as costumes to make, and always the training to do...

Join Circus Aotearoa when they return in January 2019 for their 10th Birthday with a brand new line up, and brand new tent.