Time Out spoke with Ghenoa Gela about what it's like to be the new kid on the block
Ghenoa, you recently emerged from the intensive Circus Oz induction known as 'The Lab'. How was that?
There are a lot of things in circus that require strength, like, real strength, which is something I don't have. So 'The Lab' was a lot about building that up.
You're looking pretty ripped in the publicity pics.
Ha, yeah, pretty ripped, but they took those at the end, after I'd been through.
What's it been like coming into the Circus Oz group?
It's like walking into an extended family. Everyone is really relaxed and supportive, not only the performers and the backend, but in the office as well.
You're also the new MC. Do you feel like you're the new face of Circus Oz?
I feel like everybody in the ensemble can be the face of Circus Oz. I'm the new MC, but it's not a traditional kind of, you know, I'm not going to stand up there and introduce every new act. It's a role that's really varied, like, mostly transitions between acts.
Your background is in dance not circus. Are most of the tricks new to you?
Yeah, so much exciting stuff. Recently I've been working on pyramid stuff and on the group bike. Coming from an audience perspective, where you see the performers making it look so easy, it's been really full on. I appreciate it so much more.
But also everything is new for everyone else, too. There are four new people in place, and everyone has to work to establish trust and build a rapport.
How did you end up in the circus arts?
Circus Oz ran an indigenous master class last year. I went along really just because, I dunno, I wanted to learn how to do a back flip. I thought maybe they'd teach me that. They didn't, but there were heaps of other things, like the trapeze, which I became fascinated with.
You're originally from Rockhampton and studied on the Central Coast. Is this your first time living in Melbourne?
It is and it's freezing. I'm still struggling.
I thought circus training would be a good way to fight the cold?
While I'm here, it's great. It's the journey to and from where I struggle.
Tell us about the new show. Is there much new material?
It's called From the Ground Up. There are lots of new acts. The company now has four different flavours thrown in the mix.
Your own flavour is a combination of modern and indigenous dance.
Yeah, this afternoon, actually, I'll be working on a dance piece with Dale Woodbridge, who was also part of the indigenous master class and has gone through 'The Lab'.
Are you really an air guitar champion?
I won some state titles, in 2003 or 2004, and qualified for the national titles. I placed, but I didn't win anything. But the great thing is I've been able to keep my skills up, working with Carl Polke, legendary guitarist and music arranger with Circus Oz.
Circus Oz: From the Ground Up, Birrarung Marr, 20 Jun-15 Jul.