Jane has been a WOW woman since the beginning of time and for the last 18 years she has lived and breathed circus. Multi-talented, Jane developed a wide range of circus skills specialising in aerials and acrobalance. She can teach everything! Jane was the original teacher when WOW began classes for children. These quickly proved to be very popular and christened Half High. When Half High went to Circus Monoxide, Jane followed and was the Director of Circus Monoxide for a number of years. Jane’s hours of teaching then reducing greatly as she covered all the administration needed for a professional circus company, a move of premises and a changing world. Since having her children, Jane has continued teaching at both WOW and Monoxide. Over the years Jane has directed many acts and shows for both companies including I wanna be, And imagine…, One Really Big Circus Show, and recently, The silence we carry and Portraits of WOW.
A WOWer from past years, Kim is in the Circus WOW Members Facebook Group. She noticed a comment about singing and put up her hand to facilitate the brand new 2018 class, Acquired Taste. This is a WOW vocal group, and Kim’s been working with them to discover what a ‘choir with a unique circus edge’ might actually look, and sound like. Pretty good if you ask those who saw their debut performance at Portraits of WOW, only 12 short weeks after the group first started! Kim loves singing and the joy that comes with it. She is from a family of singers and has sung herself in pubs and clubs. A mental health worker, Kim introduced singing into the rehab where she was working in Melbourne, and was stunned to see how well her clients responded. Singing gradually took on its own life in the program there, challenging even football practice. Her group was finally recognised by her employers who made it part of their official program. Fact: Singing increases magical powers…and improves both mental and physical health.
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.
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.
Nat is an aerial performer who travelled the world and Australia for almost 15 years. This included two years working with Cirque du Soleil. She is an experienced aerials teacher, so Circus WOW is lucky to have access to her teaching insights and skills. Recently Nat has had a break from performing, learning in that time to ‘perform’ the real-life role of mother. She joined the WOW acroblance class in preparing The silence we carry act and has fallen in love with acrobalance. Performing in Portraits of WOW, as Miss Wollongong’s stunt double on the lyra, and in two acro pieces, helped Nat recall the joy of performing – particularly something light-hearted and fun. In her business, Nat Harris Entertainment, Nat connects national and international performers with directors, producers and event managers.
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.
Mark Adam Douglass has been an object manipulator for over 20 years. No circus classes for Mark other than a book which he worked through in his late teens to learn his craft, working with poi, hoops and juggling. Mark has since taught and performed all over the world, at one stage managing the circus school at Circa. Mark has been associated with Circus WOW since it was just a young company, teaching classes and workshops when he’s in the Gong. He’s just moved to live here and has offered to share some of his time and skills with the local circus community and teaches a class at each of WOW, Monoxide and Burgh circuses.
Neisha is a young and vibrant physical theatre director, actor, circus entertainer and educator whose performance style blends a unique mix of physical performance and character hilarity. She enjoys the genuineness of performance and endeavours to make her work entertaining, fun and completely unforgettable! She is as comfortable high in sky hanging people from her neck as she is balancing on one foot and juggling knives! Neisha is a well established MC and her other physical skills include juggling a range of objects, Spanish web, slack rope, MCeeing, comedy and she performs dare devil stunts like the neck hang of destruction and playing her ukulele upside down in a tank full of water! Neisha graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Theatre and Media) in Australia and holds a Diploma of Circus Arts from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand. She has worked for many national and international companies and festivals. She performed for over 30,000 people in Christchurch’s annual Santa Parade and performed in the famous Spiegletent in Circus Monoxide’s production of Built. See Neisha’s website for more details.
Wendy has been a Circus WOW trainer since 2002, where it has come to be her other family. Using her qualifications – Bachelor of Arts in Dance, a Masters of Teaching and a Certificate 4 in Community Cultural development – Wendy has taken on many roles in WOW over the years that include Training Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, Outreach Coordinator, Artistic Director, choreographer, performer and Management Committee member for a number of years. Wendy has also worked as a trainer at Circus Monoxide, CIRCA, Legs On The Wall, The Australian Choreographic Centre, Sepana- Circus Kathmandu, Sydney Children’s festival, Burgh Gym and more. She has performed for numerous Australian companies and collaborators including Merrigong Theatre Co, The National Circus Festival, Cabaret of Broken Dreams, Ken Unsworth Company, Circus Monoxide, Circus Wow, Erth Physical Theatre Company, Femme Fatales and many more. Wendy has successfully been granted several choreographic commissions through Wollongong City Council, Merrigong Theatre Co and The Australian Choreographic Centre.
An acro addict, Jem is off to Europe in June 2018 to share some of her talents with the world on the European Busking Circuit Jem has been a fantastic addition to the Circus WOW training team and she also teaches at Circus Monoxide and Burgh Circus. She is generous and flexible, able to fill in as trainer for a a number of different classes. When there was no other trainer, she was also willing to give up half her acrobalance class to lead that class at WOW. ‘I love EVERYTHING about acrobalance,’ Jem says. ‘The thrill, the trust, the learning, the social interaction and the hilarious stuff ups. In acro we have each other’s backs. Literally.’ Jem has a great sense of humour, loves comedic work and working with children. She makes a wonderful pirate, or polar bear!