Roll up, roll up, Circus Aotearoa is in town

Performer Jamee Campbell is a master of hula hooping in the show Aotearoa Circus.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Performer Jamee Campbell is a master of hula hooping in the show Aotearoa Circus.

Circus life is full of highs for Jamee Campbell - both metaphorical and literal.

It's the 28-year-old's first season touring with Circus Aotearoa and the aerial stuntwoman spends a portion of each show hanging from the ceiling of the big top tent.

Arriving at New Plymouth's Pukekura Raceway on Friday for a week jam-packed with shows, the circus was a rewarding workplace for Campbell, one that's filled with "really high highs."

Ringmaster Damian Gordon has been in a part of the circus industry for about 20 years.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Ringmaster Damian Gordon has been in a part of the circus industry for about 20 years.

A professional and well-qualified dancer from Australia, the entertainer said when she discovered circus performance she thought it was much cooler than dance.

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"It had all of the things that I like about dance and movement but with danger and colour and more individuality," she said.

Aotearoa Circus arrived in New Plymouth on Friday where they will perform a number of shows during the week.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Aotearoa Circus arrived in New Plymouth on Friday where they will perform a number of shows during the week.

So she went to Christchurch to study at the circus school, Circo Art, where she earned a diploma in the creative field.

Following a stretch of freelancing she hooked in with Circus Aotearoa, which has a team of eight performers.

She said the crew, who tour together for seven months of year and sleep on site in caravans, were a close-knit family.

Jamee Campbell performs many aerial stunts in the show.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Jamee Campbell performs many aerial stunts in the show.

"Circus life is awesome," she said.

Campbell has a few specialities: she's not only skilled in aerial antics but she can also swing an armload of hula hoops around her mid-section like nobody's business.

With a smile on her face and barely a twitch of the body, she can have them spinning for minutes at a time.

The secret? Only moving one part of your body, she reckoned.

"A heavier hoop can also help."

Ringmaster Damian Gordon has been in the business for about 20 years. About nine years ago he and some family bought a tent and seats from a finishing-up circus outfit and they have been touring ever since. 

He's the boss onstage, keeping the show moving along, and a bit of a camp-father figure behind the scenes.

Circus life was in the blood and he wouldn't be doing anything else.

"I love it," he said

But this season had been a tough one, Gordon, who lived in Waitetuna outside of tour season, said.

The bad weather had provided a number of challenges which included a cancellation from the Easter weekend storm, he said.

"But you box on, you don't let it beat you." 

 

 - Stuff

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