Life’s a circus

Inside the Big Top at Circus Aotearoa.

Growing up, Matthias Goed thought everyone could juggle, like learning to walk or talk, such was his immersion in the circus life.

For Matthias, life on the road is a lifetime affair. His family runs Circus Aotearoa and he has been performing since the age of nine.

He wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I really enjoy the travelling aspect and life on the road. I find that during the off season, when I am in one place for too long I feel like I need to go and see something else. I really enjoy it.”

Circus Aotearoa stops in the Bay of Plenty next month and the young Kiwis involved are certainly enjoying the circus life. The big top is currently set up at the Village Green in Rotorua and Tauranga is the next stop, with shows running from February 5-14 at Memorial Park.

Rumah Katzen, a hula hooper, chair artist and aerial acrobat, was brought over from Australia at the start of 2020. She also admits that whilst being in the circus can be tough it is a way of life she relishes.

“It’s pretty wild actually. It’s definitely not luxury living but it’s pretty cool. Everyone loves what they're doing. We work very hard, but it’s worth it.”

Not only does the small crew perform gravity-defying acts several times a week, for six or seven months of the year, but they also do all the groundwork.

It can take three trips from one town to the other to transport the vehicles and equipment. The crew then erects the big top by hand, sells tickets, performs maintenance on their caravan living quarters, and all other necessary work needed to get the circus ready for showtime.

When their time is up, they hit the road again, with an environmentally friendly aim to leave no trace as they go. Rumah admits it makes an amusing spectacle on the final night.

“The show finishes and people are walking out the door whilst we are throwing costumes off and putting high vis on. It’s quite fun to watch everyone in their show make-up, lipstick, high vis and boots.”

Circus Aotearoa previously had a link with the Circo Arts school in Christchurch. Unfortunately, that was halted by the 2011 Earthquake. However, it has not stopped the company giving young aspiring performers in New Zealand a chance to shine.

“Since then their big thing has been to offer opportunities to up and coming performers,” Rumah explains. “So a lot of us are mid-20s or even early 20s.”

“We’ve been taking young Kiwis from circus communities all around the country, and people who have been training independently who want to see what a performing career is like,” Matthias says, pointing out some performers have gone on to perform at world renowned circuses such as the Cirque Du Soleil.

“It’s like a stepping stone into the industry.” 

Attendees can expect to see a New Zealand powered operation with young Kiwis performing incredible feats of physical ability including aerial acrobatics, balancing acts, juggling, and much more.

With no animals, and limited prop or gimmick work, the spotlight really is well and truly on the young performers.

“It's not so much a job as a lifestyle,” Matthias says. “You get to make people smile and make people laugh. That’s always a really good feeling.”

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