New heights for circus talent
HANGING ON: Tom Beauchamp performs on the corde lisse as part of Fuse Circus, the company he founded in Wellington in 2005.
For more than eight years since founding Wellington's Fuse Circus, Tom Beauchamp has been entertaining audiences and developing his craft.
Beauchamp, 40, describes himself as a "jack of all trades", equally at home performing on high from a rope, known as "corde lisse", or on the ground displaying his clowning skills. He has a bachelor degree in sculpture and a masters in theatre directing, but has never had any formal training in the circus arts.
This "jack of all trades" attitude has also put Beauchamp in the position of organising New Zealand's first circus competition, The Golden Carnie Awards, in Wellington on Saturday, at which 20 acts from around New Zealand will vie for four categories, including a grand prize.
Unlike some industry award shows, The Golden Carnie Awards have been tailored to also appeal to the public, providing them with a chance to view 20 Kiwi circus acts in one evening.
Practitioners describe what they do as "new" or "contemporary" circus'. That is, animal-free performances influenced by European and theatre traditions, rather than the traditional American-style circus shows. The best known and most successful is Canada's Cirque du Soleil.