"Papillon is an adults circus cabaret, so we take the best bits of circus and the best bits of cabaret and put it all together for just the grown ups. You can expect all types of top level circus skills, incredible singing and musicianship, some rude words and there might be the occasional lewd behaviour," Amy Nightingale-Olsen, an acrobat with the troupe, laughs.
"The show is beautiful and glitzy, but it also has a raw honesty to it. We don't take ourselves too seriously and the show is about having fun. We're having a great time and we want the audience to have a great time with us," she tells me. "We mix the grace and beauty of elite circus disciplines with the grittiness of music and comedy that you're only aloud to get away with in an all adult show."
Of course, getting a group of talented circus performers to come together was no mean feat for producers Idris Stanton and Elena Kirschbaum. "El and Idris brought us all together. We all come from very different backgrounds and from all across the country and our pianist is from America," Nightingale-Olsen says. "They picked the best acrobats and musicians that would fit into the style of Papillon. We've all worked together for many years now and have a great rapport with each other. It's a fantastic dynamic."
Nightingale-Olsen's aspirations to be a circus star came after realising her years spent training as a gymnast was not where her heart was. "I was an elite gymnast training for the Olympic Games, but I hated the competition and the pressure. I found circus shortly after leaving and I loved the inclusiveness, the honesty and creativity, and that you were out there performing for joy and love of your craft," she explains. "The favourite act I love to perform is partner acrobatics where I get tossed in the air by my base, flip, balance and then land. It's all about connection, trust and a fearlessness not associated with every day life."
While the acts always have an element of danger, there is much time spent perfecting them so come the night of the performance, the audience will be amazed by what they witness. "I train three or four times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less but it is always a lot when preparing for a show," Nightingale-Olsen tells me. "While it depends on the act, I would say 70% of what we actually do is dangerous and 30% just looks dangerous. Circus is dangerous, but that's why we train constantly, to make sure we're safe, our audience is safe and that everyone can have a great time watching us. The real trick is to make it look easy."
Five Quick Ones
Art is everywhere.
The best live show I've seen is The Book of Mormon for theatre, Backbone by Gravity and Other Myths for circus.
The best advice I was ever given is "a huge overwhelming task can be broken down in to lots of little manageable tasks. Breathe."
A song that describes my life is "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree.
A food I can't live without is cheese.
Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park.
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $36 Full | $32 Conc | $17 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival