People

Ellen Curtis (Chair)

Since Ellen started at Heidi’s Hula Hoop class in 2009 she has been hooked! Being new in town, Ellen appreciated the Circus WOW community which provided a creative, exciting and dynamic group of new pals. Ellen enjoys the range of classes on offer and has tried a bit of everything. In particular, Ellen has loved performing, and highlights have been performing in the Petit Grande at Viva with the clowning and adagio groups in 2015, and as an aerialist in Shakespeare Fantasia in 2013, as well as a variety of duo and group hoop acts over the years. Notably, in 2016 Ellen performed at 8.5 months pregnant in One Really Big Circus Show – not even the excitement of that could induce labour on time! In the new phase of being a mum to Josie, Ellen continues to enjoy performance opportunities, and Josie seems to like being part of the act too. Ellen has been on the Circus WOW committee since 2010, and was President from 2012 – 2015. She was also part of the Strategic Planning focus group in 2016. Ellen is committed to Circus WOW as a women’s organisation, as it enables women to explore their physicality, strengths, creativity, and vulnerabilities in a safe, encouraging environment.

Fran Curtis (Chair)

Fran is the current WOW Vice Chair. She is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), a street performer and the recently retired Head Teacher of Drama at Wollongong High School of Performing Arts. Fran has fallen easily into a relatively new role of playing grandmother to little Josie.  A very versatile and talented woman, as well as serving on WOW’s committee and at times as a trainer for the Performance class, Fran is involved in a number of other educational and community groups. These include Speech and Drama, Illawarra Film Society and a couple of community bands.

Korinne Brown (Vice Chair)

Korinne found Circus WOW through Acquired Taste, joining our choir group in Jan 2019. Initially drawn in by the idea of a “Circus Choir” and the Circus WOW philosophy, it was attending the 2019 Open Day that convinced her Circus WOW was something exceptional! Korinne was an early member of the Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) in South West Sydney, performing in two rock musicals as a teen before the family moved. The performance, storytelling and street theatre skills she gained with PYT have been useful in the most surprising places. Not least as an asset in professional public speaking engagements; helping her turn technical material often considered “dry and boring” into invitations to speak at other events.

Renata Field (Secretary)

Renata’s WOW story is coming soon!

Gabrielle Quigley (Vice Chair)

Gabrielle is a local Visual Arts and History teacher, who has worked across government, private and ‘alternative’ schools as well as UNSW and various museums and galleries. She loves to combine her skills in artmaking with storytelling and has taken her storytelling to playgroups, pre-schools, the classroom even as far as dinner parties. Gabrielle joined Circus in 2017 after being lured in by Angela to be part of the Performance Club, just in time for an International Women’s Day gig in Wollongong. Since then, she has found Stilts classes to be her new thrill. Thrown in at the deep end, Gabrielle’s enthusiasm and energy has helped the WOW committee which she joined at her first AGM.

Emma Khourey (Treasurer)

A Wollongong local,  Emma has made circus performance her career. Initially specialising in hula hoops, Emma extended her skills through long hard hours of study in China. Her most awesome trick is riding a giraffe unicycle while throwing something balanced on one foot into a bowl balanced on her head! Emma is a woman of many talents, a versatile clown and teacher  with growing experience as an Mistress of Ceremonies (MC). As her stage character, Tina Green, Emma MCed Portraits of WOW, providing funny and sensitive links between acts which ranged from lighthearted and silly to emotionally challenging. As Miss Wollongong she worked with stunt double, Nat Harris, setting everyone laughing at her flow of consciousness commentary to Nat on the lyra. Having directed a hoop and aerial act in the classes she teaches, she then had a quick change and joined in the energetically joyful Golden Gaytimes acrobalance act, the grand finale of the show. As well as teaching, Emma served on the Management Committee and as Training Coordinator in 2016.

Angela James (Committee Member)

Ange is a multi-talented woman – beautiful seamstress, shoe maker, philanthropist, and psychologist whom has been with WOW for many years. She enjoys costuming for Circus WOW, especially the clowning. She made the shoes and most of the clown costumes for One Really Big Circus Show in 2016. Ange has been making costumes for over 40 years, and shoe making for 10 years. She attends the Performance Club and clowning classes but took some time off in 2017 to enjoy the wonderful status of grandmother. Ange has been on the committee for many years, usually taking care of matters pertaining to renting and organisation of spaces. It was through Ange we were lucky to come under the great umbrella of SwitchFit Gym and the generous Tom and Terri Bowen. Ange says “WOW is a great group for women”.

Haley Harding (Secretary)

Haley has been a member of WOW since 2013 although she has been doing circus since 2010, with breaks for having her two children. A trained high school Science teacher, Haley is currently studying Psychology at university and doing some volunteer work. Haley’s interest is in aerials. She began doing mostly trapeze but has since found her real love is for lyra. Haley’s first performance in the Portraits of WOW show was an experience she’ll treasure. It showed her how ordinary women can work together to create something extraordinary, even if they don’t feel very confident about individual skill levels. 2018 was Haley’s first year on the committee where she took the role of Secretary.

Fran Curtis

Fran has been associated with WOW for many years as a member, performer and trainer. She is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), street performer and the recently retired Head Teacher of Drama at Wollongong High School of Performing Arts. Fran brings to WOW classes an extraordinary array of performance skills and knowledge. In her most recent work with the Performance Class, she rescued half a dozen already costumed battery hens and directed these old chooks in the development of two short, ‘cracked’ acts for Portraits of WOW, finding the balance between comedy and serious comment. Most versatile, Fran also played the ukulele with the Cabbage Tree Combo band providing live music for a number of the acts.

Di McGowan

A long time fitness instructor, Di only discovered hoops at 54 when her body was broken and injured. She could no longer ride her horse or do the exercise she loved doing. Looking for an alternative form of exercise that she could do, she found hoops. Her first lessons were online, then she found Heidi Hillier, Hoopy Happenings with other teachers to help her hone her skills. Sheer concentrated and focused hard work has seen Di not only improve her hooping, but also her body. She swears by hooping as a way to strengthen core muscles, pelvic floor, balance, flexibility and general fitness….if you’re prepared to practice! Di began as a trainer for WOW in 2018 with a new day time Hoopovers class which combines some stretching with hoops with development of hoop skills. Di’s experience as a fitness trainer and as a person who has had injuries helps her to adapt the class for different individuals who have different physical challenges and needs. She also takes Di’s Hula Hoop Fun classes in the Wollondilly Shire where she lives.