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Delve: National Circus Festival of Ireland 2019

Participant: Elysia McMullen

View Elysia McMullen ISACS profile





"I was delighted to have been chosen by ISACS as one of the Delve19 Artists to participate at the National Circus Festival, Tralee, Ireland. Upon viewing the program, I took the initiative to reach out to my fellow Delve Artist Deridre Giffin to go down a day earlier to attend the workshops that were being provided as for the coming days our program was about to kick off!! Varied with opportunities and events, attending workshops, open discussions and talks, performances, parades, dinners, drinks you name it! Be prepared to be on the go non-stop! The ISACS network team were an incredible support and were amazing at inclusion and organising us so that we got to make the most of the festival. I was excited to meet new people from the Circus community in Ireland and see what is on offer.

Talks and Open Forums

Open forum share

The open forum share was an open discussion between ISACS members and its collaborators, facilitated by Lucy Medlycott. Brainstorming about ideas in terms of support. This open forum was informative to me personally. Learning about spaces, companies, application processes and analysis, organisations all over Ireland, such as Sproai in Waterford that are open for use to create or just to come by and see what's happening. As artists we are all dealing with the same problems which are sometimes left unspoken. The deadly word of INSURANCE which is crumbling and draining spaces out all over Ireland. Vital spaces in which we need, as artists to create, train and for the community. Within the open forum you felt the despair from everyone about this topic but on a positive note the need to fight back and to make a change. It’s not only in Ireland where this is happening but all over the World, cut backs, finding spaces, it was interesting to hear from our two international programmers Tià Jorda of Circaire, Mallorca and Rafał Sadownik of Carnaval Sztukmistrzow, Poland on their experience of this topic. It is difficult enough to find spaces as artists but as well to keep them going without it being taken over by yet another office building.
It made me rediscover the importance of support from fellow artists and communities as we are the ones that are needed to insist on change. Within all the seriousness, was of course humor, it was a treat sitting around and openly discussing with each other, I created new bridges during the talk.

An Introduction to Critical Response Process

Liz Lerman’s four-step method on Critical Response Process (CPR). Facilitated by Natasha Gore.
This method helps artist’s gain important information in receiving meaningful feedback from the audience. She demonstrated in how to use this method by applying it to one of the performances TeaTime company which was shown during the festival.
This was personally extremely beneficial in relation to my own work and difficult at the same time, you begin to realise how you can venture off from the question at hand. You learn how to phrase your questions, statements and opinions. You learn how you can be specific in your questions in order to get the feedback you are looking for. Each step has a specific goal in getting certain information, therefore you begin to understand in how you can phrase your question in relation to a step. The importance of having a facilitator so that they can guide the feedback session in a constructive way in benefitting both the artist and audience. From this talk I will definitely apply it to my own creative process and thinking.


Over the course of the weekend we were spoilt with performances, cabarets and parades. It was a feast for the eyes and a spark of inspiration. Some works included Fauna, in which they protrayed an excellency of technique, they showed new innovated ways in using their apparatus in which I haven’t seen before. They made it seem effortless, for example in Chinese Pole, Canes and Acrobatics which left the audience in awe of their capabilities and performance.
In the beautiful Siamsa Tire theatre was the variety show which consisted of the hilarious Lords of Strut who were our hosts during the evening and kept the audience entertained throughout. The evening consisted of a medley of acts and styles which included, Thelmo Parole, Fling, Bubblecirkus, Duo Zenzero e Cannella, Tumble Circus and Gracie and Christian. From magic manipulation, clowning, hand to hand, juggling, hoop and acrobatics, tight wire and duo trapeze, a variety of acts to please the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the acts as they were all so different from each other. Especially the duo acts, one thing that they had in common was an object (being the obstacle) and the relationship between male and female. Gracie and Christian (hoop) Tumble Circus (trapeze) Duo Zenzero e Cannella (balls) within each performance they all had their own style and charisma, from a punk-rock, rebel, anarchist to playful, mischief and loving. It was interesting to see how they combined different disciplines together with Gracie and Christian combing hoop and acrobatics, while playing around with lighting to create shadows and silhouettes of them on stage to enhance the atmosphere and mood to the piece. Duo Zenzero e Cannella combing hand to hand technique with juggling, the object being the balls had more meaning throughout the piece as it was the bridge and the one that tied their relationship together. It was brilliant to have a workshop from them before hand as it gave me more insight into how they work.
Closing off the festival in St John’s Church was a double bill from Cikada Circus and Tea Time Company. Both performances transforming and shifting the beautiful space of St Johns Church.
Cikada Circus a hand to hand duo, portraying a funny and charismatic relationship together combing graceful acrobatics, moments of hilarity and sensitivity, combing everyday gestures with technique, the show is a rendition of everyday life insect habits.
Tea time company, a juggler, a chinese pole artist, a dancer and three sticks, they combine a blend of circus and dance. They configured an organic way of moving and manipulating the sticks throughout the space and with each other. Slowly grasping the attention of the audience to bring us into their world.

Lastly the Renegade Stage, open for anyone and everyone to show off their best tricks, acts, jokes! This open stage is a gift for the wild and courageous! Being the spontaneous improviser that I am, I thought to give it a go! By giving an audience member to choose a song and for myself to see what movements will arise with it. Luckily a girl proposed to beatbox and for me combing two talents in one!! The National Circus Festival can be full of surprises one that I will remember!!

ElysiaDeirdre NCFI2019


There was a wide range of workshops which I was thoroughly ecstatic about. I was dying to jump into the gym and get started! From handstands, hand to hand, acrobatics, object work in relation to solo and duo’s, trampoline, aerials and open training what more could you ask for. Within my busy schedule I managed to squeeze in a lot! Working with some brilliant international teachers and professionals such as Zenzero and Cannella, Rhianon Cave- Walker, Nat Whittingham and Fidget Feet. I wanted to concentrate on a specific type of training, handstands, hand to hand, acrobatics and partner work in relation to objects which is already a lot so I did not participate in any aerial training. But I did do something new which was trampoline, which I’m usually terrified of but Nat Whittingham convinced me to give it a go! Well the fear bounced right out of me and I was thriving to learn more! Overall I learned and took in some new information and exercises especially within the techniques of handstands which I will put into my pocket. The energy of the participants was brilliant, having the craic and laughs together while trying out new things. With the open training don’t be afraid to grab or ask someone about something or to join in with what others are doing! It was great to see some familiar and non-familiar faces but contacts and friendships that I will keep going.

I would like to give a special thanks to ISACS, The Arts Council and the National Circus Festival of Ireland for inviting me to participate as their Delve Artist 2019. I would highly recommend the Delve programme to fellow ISACS members. I hope I can return again in 2020!

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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