NICA presents ‘Born in Sawdust’ this week

National Institute of Circus ArtsThe National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) presents Born in Sawdust, an ensemble performance by its 2015 graduating artists, beginning this week. Directed by internationally acclaimed Gavin Robins, Born in Sawdust celebrates the rich histories of both circus performers and their trainers.


NICA’s talented graduating artists reflect on the circus legacy in the new production, which will play at the state-of-the-art National Circus Centre in Prahran. “Born in sawdust” is a Russian phrase to describe someone born into the circus.


While creating the concept for the show Gavin Robins drew inspiration from a very local source. Robins explained, “Stories from the traditional circus worlds of the NICA trainers have been our muse for this work. NICA trainer Kostya Ibraguimov, who sadly passed away last year, provided inspiration for this performance’s thematic material. The lineage of our trainers and mentors is what makes the shadows of our past materialise into the here and now.”


Arturo Gomez is one of the NICA trainers whose stories were used as the starting point for this new production. Gomez said, “Circus is my life. The kingpole is my father, the circus tent covers me like my mother, the circus wires are my veins, the circus lights are my eyes, the applause is my best food and the sawdust is my finest perfume.” 


Born in Sawdust incorporates digital technology to explore the interplay of projected silhouettes and live circus performance. The performance acrobatically intercuts between the shadows of the past and the performers of the present only to discover how connected these two worlds are. Audiences can expect to be amazed by daring circus skills as well as enchanted by the real life circus narratives woven into this work.


The striking digital projections have been developed by students from Swinburne University of Technology’s Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (Film + TV) under the guidance of Program Coordinator Lisa Robins.


This production has also seen collaborations between NICA and Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Costume for Performance and Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services students.


Born in Sawdust is a rare opportunity to see Australia’s emerging circus stars perform a range of old and modern skills, including: Aerial Hoop, Handstands, Highwire, Clowning and Object Manipulation, Aerial Straps, Dance Trapeze, Tumbling, Hula Hoops, Multicord and Slings.


Running November 18-28, Born in Sawdust tickets are on sale at


Image by Aaron Walker Photography.

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