By Mandy Plumb
6 May 2021
Watch out Cirque du Soleil and move over Circa—Flipside Circus is proving to be the freshest modern contemporary circus performance troupe in Australia with their season of Dogs in the Schoolyard!
Don’t be fooled by the young ages of the cast, which range from 12–18 years, or the fact that it is aimed at children eight years and under. Dogs in the Schoolyard is such a superb masterpiece of creativity and physicality that it appeals to all ages.
The performance begins with one lone new dog trying to find his way while another lone dog watches with curiosity from a tree above. Beautiful storm birds flit in and around the tree with graceful shapes, hand balancing, and silks. They accept the lone dog in the tree as if she is one of their own.
On the contrary, the pack of dogs below are not as inclusive. Watching them play through exceptional choreographed tumbling and acrobatics is mesmerising. Each of the young performers is highly skilled and unphased by the daring feats to which they commit; even the youngest whose arm was in a cast yet was still able to balance on people’s shoulders with poise and grace.
The brilliant soundtrack by Guy Webster provided the perfect amount of aural light and shade throughout the performance. The young circus artists—Mia Hughes, Izzy Lawton, Abbey Factor, Aurora Bennett-Godde, Eden Vann, Emily Shearer, Indra Garvey, Jedda Bell, Lucy Hunterland, Luke Whitefield, Meg Barber, Oscar Morris, Samantha Giles, Teleah Richardson, Tula Holmes, and Zebedee Davies—showed maturity beyond their years with their group mind work and trust in each other.
The entire performance is a visual poem thanks to the gifted creative team—Robert Kronk, Elaine Acworth, and Amy Stuart—and the team of trainers.
Better than many ‘internationally acclaimed’ circus productions I’ve seen, these kids showed up the elitists. The occasional young eyes darting into sections of the audience to search for mum and dad just added an endearing quality to the overall performance.