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ISACS Member - Dea Birkett
ISACS Member - Dea Birkett

Ali Henri in Dublin 2017 Photo Luiz AndradeWe have invited our members to tell us a little more about themselves, their backgrounds, inspirations and thoughts on the exciting art forms of Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle in Ireland (and further afield)!


Introducing Circomara, an Irish based circus company specialising in Acrobatics and Physical Comedy, who sailed all the way down from Sweden to Dublin in 2013. Since then, Circomara has become a renowned company in the Irish Circus and Street Arts scene and wowed audiences at the famous Spraoi Waterford festival as one of the New Emerging Street Talents in 2015, Dublin Fringe with the 'Way of the Coconut' held on their 27ft sailing circus boat the 'Tintomara', and many more. Circomara tour all over the world with award-winning companies such as Tumble Circus and Fanzini Productions. They work with Clowns Without Borders and other programmes bringing Circus to the Middle East such as Taking Flight in Gaza with the support of Culture Ireland. Circomara is also one of the founding member of Irish Acro, the Irish Acrobalance Convention happening this May! We've interviewed Henrik Gard to get to know the company better and learn all about his aspirations for the future. 

Enjoy reading about Henrik's experiences in the world of Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle!


Picture: Ali & Henrik - Dublin 2017 | Photographer: Luiz Andrade




View Circomara ISACS profile 


View Circomara ShipWreck video



View Irish Acro 2017 video



 Picture: Ali & Henrik in Dublin 2017 | Photographer: Luiz Andrade

Ali Henrik 2017 Luiz AndradeCan you describe your work? 

I am a Swedish circus artist based in Dublin, my main skills are partner acrobatics and handstands. I am the initiator and one of the organisers for Irish Acro, an acrobatic convention that will be held for the third year in a row in 2018.



How did you first get involved in Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle?

I did my first street performance in Asia during an around the world hitchhiking trip in 2011 and thought street performance would be a handy way to make some money on my trip. My first performances took place in Singapore followed by Malaysia, China, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

After almost three years of travelling, I came back home to Sweden where I started training a lot of acrobatics, and bought a sailboat with the dream of creating a sailing circus show. I sailed off from Sweden and arrived in Ireland some months later where I decided to moor, and I have now been based here for more than four years.



 Picture: Henrik Performing in Dublin Circus Project | Photographer: Turlach O'Brien

Circomara Henrik Gard RolabolaWhat is your earliest memory of experiencing Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle? 

My grandfather was an acrobat in the late 1930's in Sweden before WW2 broke out. I remember as a child seeing pictures of him and his acrobatic partner doing what I now realise as very difficult tricks. Their Acro duo was called “Gard and Godfrey - Power Athletics”.


Can you identify a pivotal moment that transformed your work significantly?

Being chosen for ISACS N.E.S.T programme in 2015, which gave me the opportunity to work on a show with a director (Con Horgan, Fanzini productions) and got to perform my first show 'Shipwrecked' in several places in Ireland and abroad. Later on that year I made an extended version of the show and called it 'Way of the Coconut'. It was a show on my sailboat and premiered in Dublin Fringe 2015. After that, I got involved with Fanzini productions show 'Circus Jukebox' and also Tumble Circus' show 'Unsuitable' which were also turning points in my career. But really, I feel like I'm just getting started. Got lots of training to do.



What other activities, creative or otherwise do you do that contribute to your work?

I was painting canvases and murals for years and sometimes I think that influences the way I make an act or show. I'm learning to play the guitar to get a wider understanding of music and how I would like music to influence my work. I also try to watch as many shows as I can, circus or not.

 Circomara Fringe Way of the Coconut small

Picture: Henrik Gard performing 'Way of the Coconut' at Dublin Fringe 2015 | Photographer: David Sexton


What was your first experience like of presenting work to an audience? 

I did my first performance in 2011 on a busy street in Singapore, It was a really bad show with me juggling some homemade juggling balls, throwing a few backtucks and finishing off with juggling my homemade fire torches made out of a sawed-off broomstick and some cotton webbing. I think I made enough money for a meal or two and was very happy.



What advice would you give to someone wanting to show work publicly for the first time? 

It's probably not gonna be great the first time but the quickest way to get better is by taking as many opportunities to perform as you can.


Circomara Shipwrecked2Picture: Henrik Gard Performing 'Shipwrecked' at Knockan Stockan 2015


Are you working towards any new projects at the moment?

At the moment I'm in Australia in the middle of a tour of 'Unsuitable' with Tumble Circus. Besides that I will spend the next few months in Australia and Ireland working with Ali Stanger, an acrobat from the UK, to develop our duo acrobatic show.

Aileen Rogers and I are working on making the Irish Acro convention bigger and better. This year the convention will take place 24 - 27th May and we have acrobats coming from all around the world to teach and train.

There's also a few of us setting up a new ground-based acrobatic show to happen in 2018. Watch this space!


 Circomara Fringe Way of the Coconut David Sexton small

Picture: Henrik Gard performing 'Way of the Coconut' at Dublin Fringe 2015 | Photographer: David Sexton


How do you feel about the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland right now? 

I think a lot of things has happened in the last few years but it' still a very small scene. New training spaces have opened, new conventions and festivals have popped up. More people are training but we need more performing and creating acts and shows.


What do you think is necessary for the art forms of street arts, circus and spectacle to develop and grow in Ireland? 

I'd like to see more workshops and training opportunities for people! There wasn't an acrobatic convention in Ireland so we created one.

I think more people should take the step from doing circus as a hobby to becoming semi-professional or professional.  



What role/impact has the ISACS network had on your work to date? 

Besides my involvement in the N.E.S.T programme, I have received so much support from ISACS and I believe it is uniting the sector and strengthens our voice.


 Circomara Fringe Way of the Coconut David Sexton small2

Picture: Henrik Gard and Ria Murphy performing 'Way of the Coconut' at Dublin Fringe 2015 | Photographer: David Sexton


What is the best comment you have ever received for your work? 

“When's the next event?”

Participant only a couple of days after Irish Acro Convention finished.



Finally, do you have any favourite tips or advice for emerging artists?

Practice making short routines which are not involving your main skill.

If struggling to find ideas it usually helps to do rather then to think.

 It's probably impossible to make work that everyone likes.

 Practice handstands it feels healthy for the brain.


 Ali Henri in 2017 Photo Luiz Andrade small

Picture: Ali & Henri in Dublin 2017 | Photographer: Luiz Andrade


View Circomara ISACS profile 

View Circomara ShipWreck video

View Irish Acro 2017 video


Interested in getting involved in the sector? Join the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network today!

Irish Street Arts Circus and Spectacle Network

Irish Theatre Institute, 17 Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
00 353 (0)87 0541812 info@isacs.ie
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