Circa Contemporary Circus celebrates 20

Circa's 'Humans'. Photo by Pedro Greig.
Circa's 'Humans'. Photo by Pedro Greig.

Australia’s mighty circus company Circa is celebrating 20 years. It was on March 31, 2004, that Circa, then an ensemble of three, performed its first show. Fast forward 20 years, and Circa is an ensemble of 30, with five full time directors and designers; from its original base in Brisbane, Circa now has additional homes in Cairns and satellite bases around the world.

Firmly established as one of the world’s leading performance companies, over the past two decades, the company has achieved remarkable success to become Australia’s most internationally toured performing arts company, performing in over 45 countries, to nearly 2 million people and attracting superlative reviews wherever it goes.

In 2024, Circa is delivering a staggering 361 performances in 20 different countries 97 cities and towns. Australian highlights include the world premiere of Dido and Aeneas, a new collaboration with Opera Queensland following January’s critically acclaimed Sydney festival season of Orpheus and Eurydice; the Queensland premiere of What Will Have Been at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre; and a Victorian and West Australian regional tour of Humans 2.0. with performances of the work taking place consecutively in regional France and Belgium. In Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne has invited Circa to be represented in the Australian Performing Arts Collection, a collection that preserves and celebrates the rich history of Australia’s performing arts practitioners and companies. 

Circa is celebrated for not just its extraordinary skill levels but also its artistry. Under Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz’s visionary direction, the company has evolved an innovative and influential style of performance, working at the very forefront of contemporary circus.

Lifschitz said, “For the past two decades, I have risen each morning and thought I am the luckiest person in the world. I lead a company, Circa, that I love, doing work that I love with great people. Twenty years ago, building on the stubbornly hard work of the previous 17 years of Rock n Roll Circus, I changed the name of and cemented a new direction the company. Circa. It was contemporary, uncompromising, elusive and strange. Much misunderstood, heavily doubted and somewhat under loved, it was a perfect platform for voyaging into the unknown. Circus that moves the heart, the mind and soul, the company was dedicated to reimagining the future of circus.”

In 2024, Circa collaborates with companies Opera Australia, Opera Queensland, Western Australian Opera, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and artists Alex Berlage, Ori Lichtik, Harley Mann, Edan Porter, David Biondi-Odo, Ally Humphris, Franui Musicbanda, Rebecca Seymour, Lachlan O’Donnell, Accentus Chorus, Laurence Equilbey, Orchester Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Amina Edris, Agata Schmidt, Amitai Pati, Alexander Tsymbalyuk, Opera Australia Chorus, Opera Australia Orchestra, Christophe Dumaux, Cathy-Di Zhang, Russell Harcourt, Prudence Sanders, West Australian Opera Chorus, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble of Opera Queensland, Anna Dowsley and Sebastian MacLaine.

Lifschitz said, “It is my life’s creative work, and I am immensely proud of the shows we have created, the artists we have helped develop, and the emotional and intellectual contributions we have made to what is possible in circus. I often reflect on what I’m still doing here, and I recall Ann Carson’s line that “existence will not stop until it gets to beauty”. For me, the beauty of circus is its ability to present powerful truths and ephemeral states with the thrill of the embodied – it contains within it the charge of true revelation. Circa will not stop because such beauty is as rare as it is inexhaustible, and I look forward to the next decades of hunting it.”

For more information and CIRCA tour dates, head to circa.org.au.

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