Follow the link for this video and more on Thespace.org website:
Great little video on what is contemporary circus, and some lovely shots of circus old and new.
Follow the link for this video and more on Thespace.org website:
The original clown was born in 1778 London named Joseph Girmaldi. Born from an Italian comic actor immigrant, he lived in Clerkenwell and took to the stage at Sadlers wells from an early age. Grimalde has a sad family story: abuse from his father and his wife’s early death probably inspired and left him finding comfort in theatre. He invented the white faced standard uniform of all typical clowns today, was a master of audience interaction and a legendary figure in the theatre till his death in 1837. At a time when slap stick and buffonary were wildly extravagant shows, Grimaldi was a constant sell out with his wit, physical stunts and sing a long’s. By age 42 he was left broken and unable to walk back from his local pub because of the stage, he literally performed himself to death. Not much in the way of first hand sources are left, apparently he wrote memoires but they have never been found. What we do know is that he was loved by his audience who saw him through his infirm years with benefit gigs to allow him a pension and probably a few free pints.
Today Grimaldi is commemorated the first Sunday of every February at a church not far from his grave stone, clowns come fully dressed to a clown service and show ever year. That fell on The 5th this year.... I will have to remember to go in 2013, now I how the tradition of the sad clown started.
Circus performances come in a variety of profiles: children's shows, walk about's, full scale production, partner acts or mini festival acts. But my favorite has to be cabaret and burlesque. It lends it's self to small intimate audiences, skimpy costumes for good prop-skin contact and short fast shows with big gestures.
The Neo-burlesque revival has been going strong for 10 years now with house hold names like Ditta Von Tesse and our own Ministry of Burlesque, or MoB, proving this. Performers have been specializing in cabaret/burlesque and making a name for themselves through this art form again. The Edinburgh Fringe 2010 saw an increase in performers riding on Neo-burlesque's notoriety which would explain the expanding array of vintage clothing basements and stalls around.
This new burlesque is open to a wider range of performance styles such as theater, modern dance and of course circus. Some Burlesque acts draw direct influence from circus such as the popular boylesque rope bondage - familiar with Corde lisse circus performers. Circus and burlesque both have a long history, as forms of entertainment they have come and gone in fashion, mocking the mainstream and humoring serious art through strange and freakish performance. They both now fall into the category of variety show and are doing well for themselves by assimilating together.
In Cambridge there are now two nights tailoring to this revival, the hugely popular Salon Rouge and a new but no less sparkly Neon Moon's night @ the Hidden rooms. I had the pleasure of performing a Christmasy act I had been working on to much success at the latter. I practiced my crowd interaction and audience control. The next step will be learning to hula in heels!
This summer I returned from my travels round India with the charity Performers Without Borders. What great fun it was! I have seen so much of the world and been able to give back to some of the poorest communities I traveled through as well. PWB was set up but Matt and Johnny and has been going for 4 years now. We were only the third group to be representing this worth while cause.
Out Itinerary was to stay for a month at a time at three children's centres spread across India. SKCV centre and school in Vijayawade on the west cost. Asha Deep school in Varanasi on the banks of the famous Ganges and the Edith Willkins trust in Darjeeling, the hilly tea centre. I taught a variety of props over the three months and we helped the kids put on a show at the end of each project. For some of the children, it was the first time they had seen circus stuff, let alone tried it and for many of the children we taught it was an opportunity to enjoy their child hood. In many cases the children we were working with had been forced into slave labour, prostitution or just abandoned by their parents. But you wouldn't have been able to tell from the looks on their faces when we saw them!
Their agility, determination and bravery was wonderful to watch and I made some really heart warming relationships through teaching and playing. Each project had a distinct feel, some PWB had visited before, like Asha deep centre, where a few of the older kids actually tried fire spinning before we left! while others were completly new to the charities services as we took PWB into new territories. At the Edith Wilkins trust the staff were overwhelmed by our volunteer work, they had never seen circus before either!
As well as teaching, the group made a performance. We spent a few weeks before travelling putting a super show together, a roller coaster ride with tuc-tuc's.juggling waiters and unicyling policemen. We toured the show, performed it at each new location and even did a few extra public performances. In Darjeeling we performed on their public square, it was hard to estimate numbers but the crowd was well over 1000 and in Varanasi we performed on the banks of the Ganges!
This Month PWB are putting on some fundraising events in Liverpool and Brighton I highly recommend a visit. The acts will be slick, the cause a worthy one and you will have lots of fun.
Click here for the for the Brighton show
click here: for the Liverpool show.
As a graduate searching the job market, one thing you have to learn quickly is how to sell yourself. So I applied to a PR company to help develop my skills in this area. Optimise PR, a small company with decades of PR experience, were working with a client over Breast Cancer Awareness Month when I joined them in October. As someone who is passionately interested in the charity sector this was something I wanted to learn more about.
I saw first hand how a PR company pitches to a client and the amount of background work that gets done before a project comes to life. I familiarised myself with the journalist database Cision, had fun communicating through social media and writing my first press release.
I gained an understanding of how charities work together, pooling their resources for a yearly event that helps fundraising and boost awareness.
Each of the team members has their own specific focus, whether in journalism, social media or a client focus – it was great fun to be working in a team bouncing ideas across the office and learning about a new industry.
It wasn’t until the second week that I mentioned in passing, my website to Eleanor – something I had just considered a hobby, until then. I had decided to put the website together as an online resume of my experience in circus performing, inspired by some friends of mine. But Eleanor saw the strength in it straight away and encouraged me to write a press release. And so, Fleuriefire was launched.
I hadn’t really engaged with the media much before. If I did host an event it was promoted through Facebook, SMS messages and flyering. This had worked reasonably well but I hadn’t much contact with the wider community. I am still shocked by the amount of media interest there was over my press release. It was probably a combination of good timing: October being a good month for events: (Halloween, Bonfire night, Christmas and New Year all follow) and excellent coaching on my press release. I have been in two local papers, interviewed on the radio and starred in two lifestyle magazines, with a further two lined up for next year.
It went through several drafts and eventually I tailored two versions: one for local parties and events, another for weddings. I learnt to build on my strengths – the originality of my circus skills, my experience performing and teaching internationally, and the local angle.
Putting this all together as a business launch really made it stand on its own as a piece of news. Of course writing and sending the press release was only half the work and, I quickly learnt that follow-up phone calls are just as, if not more important. Making sure the press release has got through to the right person, not the sales department, and building up a rapport with journalists is vital and I am still learning. I was encouraged on two occasions by journalists to promote a public event as the main news hook, so as I gain more bookings, I will continue to have news-worthy stories.
I left Optimise with increased confidence in my business, a well planned launch that has given me media contacts and got my face on the front cover of a local magazine.
Many new opportunities have opened up for me. I am networking like crazy and my social media presence is growing. I have printed off some new business cards and am contacting venues/event-planners with a glossy brochure to showcase myself as a new form of entertainment. With lots more ideas in the future to promote Fleuriefire and the pool of knowledge Optimise PR has provided I can continue to grow and learn.