26 May 2017

Guest Post: 'Katharine Kavanagh 'The Circus Diaries - Inside The National Centre For Circus Arts'

Here at Gandeys we love to read from different arts writers around the Globe.
We came across, a fascinating site; The Circus Diaries, written by Katharine Kavanagh, which is described as 'A Critical Exploration of the Circus World'. We loved reading her work and asked if we could share some with you...

"It was like Christmas coming early.  An invitation to visit the library at the National Centre For Circus Arts in London.  Books! Circus books! Hoorah!

Walking into the building, so unassuming from the outside, I find myself in a modern reception area. The design is clean and unfussy, flavoured with bare brick, industrial wire work, and wooden floors that remind me of so many old school halls.  Originally a community power station from the Victorian era, the structure was taken over by the then Circus Space in 1994 and, after extensive renovation, returned to a community purpose, providing circus classes and training for professionals and amateurs alike.

The National Centre is part of the UK’s Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, which places it amongst prestigious training grounds such as RADA, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and Rambert School ofBallet and Contemporary Dance.  Even in such fine company though, the playful and familial circus heart still beats throughout its corridors and studio spaces.  A girl hides beneath the sinks in the cloakroom area of the ladies’ loos, motioning me to ‘shhh’ as I come through the door.  A group of students burst noisily into the foyer area carrying a fully decorated Christmas tree, joking together in a variety of languages (I hear ‘Make like a juggler and drop it’).  As I sit, I’m joined by Tim Lenkiewicz of Square Peg, who just happens to have popped in to meet a friend.  Before I know it, I’m reading out horoscopes to a group of circus folk.

Joint CEO Jane Rice-Bowen arrives to meet me with a smile and a pair of gold angel wings strapped to her back.  This is the last day of term, she explains, and as she didn’t have a traditional Christmas jumper to wear, she made her own! Jane has been with the organisation for over 10 years, through much of the renovation and through the transition to national status earlier this year.  She currently shares the CEO role with Kate White and, as she guides me around the circus studios, Jane explains that their role is about creating a safe space – structurally, physically, emotionally and legally – in order for people to do incredible things.

The largest two spaces are named for their original power station functions – the Generating Chamber and the Combustion Chamber.  Both are rigged from floor to ceiling with all manner of kit, and are available to professionals as training space as well as to the school’s students.  Lunch-breaks are staggered to allow daytime training availability, in addition to evening sessions where students can use the facilities alongside working professionals.  The schedule also includes recreational classes and slots reserved solely for professional practice, as well as corporate team building events that bring to life business metaphors such as ‘keeping all the plates spinning’, and ‘balancing a fine line’.

The Acrobatics Studio is fully sprung and padded, and provides space for family classes with children from the age of two and a half.  A purpose built creation space includes a semi-sprung floor, laid over concrete screed to allow for solid rigging, and boasts mirrored walls all the way up to the ceiling.  ‘Space is worth a huge amount to artists and performers’, explains Jane.  ‘Here it’s safe, it’s clean, it’s riggable, it’s warm – all that stuff that you need.’  There are also ‘circus solutions’ dotted around the warren-like building, such as the squares of specially hardened floor for bounce juggling.

Moving up the building are creative office hub units, (one of which is current home to Upswing), the Middle Studio (where contestants of recent BBC reality show Tumble trained their aerial routines), the Top Studio (fitted with a ballet barre for students’  movement classes, but also apparently a favourite with the jugglers because of the quality of light), and then, the reason why I’m here: the library.

Currently only open to full-time students of the school, the collection of books, journals, DVDs and reports is a treasure trove of eclectic material that might benefit anyone looking to forge a career in the circus world.  Whilst there are the anticipated biographies, volumes on circus history, guides to acrobatic techniques, clowning, and a big shelf on juggling, there is also a selection of writings on acting technique, dance, puppetry, martial arts, theatre history and arts theory, alongside study skills and business strategy,  physiology, architecture, and circus fiction…  The catalogue stretches from the Good Study Guide to The Hacky Sack Book, from Gray’s Anatomy to Paul Daniels’ Story of Magic.

Then there are the stacks of newspapers, piles of journals and folders full of magazines.  UK publications The Stage, King Pole and World’s Fair are all stocked, as are international titles.  There are boxes of show programmes, archived by company. There are VHS and DVD records of performances ranging from the Marx Brothers to students’ graduating shows.

There are also, unsurprisingly, several volumes in French, and I ask whether the school offers any French language classes.  Although not an official part of the programme, Tim Roberts, who is HE Courses Director for the Centre, has begun to introduce his students to ‘France World’. After working as Boss Clown at Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus in the 1970s,  Roberts spent 20 years as a teacher in France.   ‘France World’ is an informal window onto cultural and conversational French, relevant to the circus industry.   The National Centre also organises exchange programmes with schools in France, both for students and teachers, widening opportunities for professional careers.

In the past, borrowing from the library has been on a haphazard – and sometimes permanent – basis, but funding has recently been secured for a security system to make sure no more items will be accidentally lost.  Jane’s eyes brighten as she talks about the Centre’s ambitions to grow their stock and open up the resource to the public in the future.  ‘What’s important’, she stresses, ‘Is to grow the status of the art form, to spread awareness.’ "

Want to read some more from Katharine? Head to: www.thecircusdiaries.com

22 May 2017

Romy Bauer: Working with Gandeys.

Here at Gandeys World Class Productions we have produced some of the most popular shows around the globe for over 40 years. 

We pride ourselves on successfully providing diverse entertainment in complex and challenging environments, where many have failed before. 
Mostly, we pride ourselves in being a tight-knit company where all who work with us are treated as our 'Gandey Family'.

Romy Bauer, Contortionist, began working with Gandeys from her very early years and has never looked back. We asked her what it was like to work with Gandeys and how she got into circus. 

"My name is Romy Bauer.

My parents were both in circus, and their parents and their parents - actually I'm not sure how far back my family has worked in the business but I know it's many, many generations! I was lucky enough to be born into this business and have always loved it.

Day-to-day I perform an aerial contortion. I have a globe act - which is a giant crystal ball that is suspended from the big top, and an Aerial Hoop act.

How did I get into working with Gandeys? Well my parents began working for Gandeys when I was 2 years old, so apart from a few years I took off to go to school, I have been with this company for most of my life. 

For me, Gandeys is my family. We have a lot of different artists that come and go and they are always so sad to go, it's a lovely company to work for and has such a family environment. People often say it can be very difficult working and living together - but at Gandeys I haven't seen this be a problem."

Romy has just moved from Gandeys Circus to perform with Circus Starr

Romy is delighted to be performing with Circus Starr, which is an incredible organisation providing free entertainment for thousands of disadvantaged, disabled and vulnerable children. Head on over to their Facebook to see what they're up to!

19 May 2017

Hollywood A-Listers filming for Guernsey production.

In Guernsey a host of Hollywood A-Listers are currently filming for a new production set to hit our screens in 2018.

It will feature a number of stars, including Lily James, Penelope Wilton and Matthew Goode of Downtown Abbey, along with Glen Powell of Hidden Figures and Michiel Huisman from Game of Thrones (just to name a few!).

 Lily James is staring in the film, portraying Juliet Ashton, a free-spirited journalist who forms a bond with a secret book society during the German occupation of the channel islands during the second world war. 

During this time, Juliet  falls in love with the people of Guernsey and with 'Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Society' and decides to write about the book club they formed. 

The screen play is adapted from the Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow's best seller of the same name which sold over 7.5 million copies.

We can't wait to see the film next year, if it's anything like the book it's guaranteed to be a hit!

Gandeys Circus is currently in Guernsey before moving onto Jersey next week. 

A resident, or visiting the islands and want to have a thrill packed 5* show whilst you're there? Get your tickets here.

12 May 2017

National Vegetarian Week 2017

Next week it is National Vegetarian Week 2017, where people from all over the globe ditch the meat and go veggie from the 15th - 21st May.
In aid of National Vegetarian Week we have found an excellent vegetarian recipe from our friends Wing Yip who have previously supported The Chinese State Circus!
The recipe is for Thai spicy sweetcorn fritters; a favourite of The Lady Boys of Bangkok!

All you need is:

275g tinned or frozen sweetcorn
1 tbsp kaffir lime leaves (finely sliced)
2 tbsp Mai Siam Fish Sauce
1 heaped tsp Mai Siam Red Curry Paste
1 tsp Mai Siam Palm Sugar or brown sugar
2 tbsp cornflour or potato starch
vegetable oil for frying
1 egg

Mai Siam Sweet Chilli Sauce (mixed with some chopped red onion)


Drain or defrost the sweetcorn, depending on which one you are using.
Place 2/3rds of the sweetcorn in a blender together with all ingredients except the frying oil. Tip out into a large bowl and mix in remaining whole kernels of sweetcorn.
Heat wok or frying pan and add about 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat gently. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of the mixture into the hot oil.
Cook about 8 - 10 fritters at a time, and turn them over to cook on both sides.
Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue cooking spicy corn cakes, using up all the mixture.
Serve with Mai Siam Sweet Chilli Sauce mixed with finely chopped red onion and cucumber.

Makes about 12 fritters! They look delicious... will you be going veggie next week?!

2 May 2017

The 69th Annual Met Gala - The Most 'Interesting' Looks

The 69th Annual Met Gala was held yesterday which honoured fashion designer Rei Kawakubo with stars dolled up to the nines with the theme 'Commes Des Garcons'. 

Every year we see celebrities experimenting with their fashion and 2017 did not disappoint. Here are a few of our favourite 'interesting' looks from this year's event:

Jaden Smith (carrying his own hair?)

What did you think of this year's looks? 

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