Empowering refugee and migrant youth through circus and mentoring regional artists to create arts projects with impact
Daisy Chain is a recent partnership project between Sylph Circus and Vulcana Women’s Circus in Brisbane. The project was aimed at empowering refugee and migrant youth from Milpera State School through a series of circus community engagement workshops whilst training Sylph Circus director and young trainees in project management and workshop facilitation.
Mentored by Celia White (Vulcana artistic director), Cindy Schwenn (Sylph director) was guided through the process of planning and implementing a circus based community engagement project. Young Sylph Circus trainees developed their skills in workshop facilitation as they taught alongside of Vulcana trainers. Students of Milpera State High School were selected to participate in the workshops. The project was funded by Arts Queensland’s Regional Arts Fund (RAF), and took place during Terms 3 and 4, 2017.
Maleny based regional professional artists Sue Moxon (musician) and James Muller (filmmaker) were also employed by the project. Sue played live music to accompany Milpera students as they performed a circus demonstration for their school audience and James made interviews and film footage of the workshops, assisted by Milpera students, to make a short documentary about the project.
The workshops empowered the young Milpera students through a combination of the arts: circus, dance, film and music. The Milpera school staff noted an increase in students confidence as a result of their participation. Positive connections were made between all involved.
Cassia Duncan, Daisy Chain Sylph trainee, facilitated the dance aspect of the workshop. Cassia said, “The Daisy chain project was a wonderful opportunity for me as a young artist to learn how to teach kids with varied skills and backgrounds. It made me realise that you need to know your students before you can truly teach them and it was absolutely wonderful getting to know the students at Milpera State School. “
The project was initially inspired by the Sylph Circus performance troupes devised performance called: ‘Limbo A Refugee Story’. Sylph Circus performers wanted to share the passion and empowerment they experience through circus with young refugees.
The Sylph Circus team received circus skill and technique training in a workshop in Maleny facilitated by Vulcana trainers, Bianca Mackail and Emma Aitchison. The workshop included handstanding, tumbling, acro, silks and lyra training.
Sylph Circus would like to thank Vulcana Women’s Circus for the amazing training and positive experience. We are now equipped with the skills to run our own community engagement projects.
We’d also like to thank RAF for funding the project and making it possible.