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Come Join the Circus was a choreographic work devised and performed in the New Lynn town centre by ten local primary school students. This work took the form of a site-specific ‘performance walk’ developed in response to the historic, social and physical ecologies of the area, and using the spatial potential of the contemporary urbanscape. The audience (peers, parents and teachers, plus those who chanced upon it) followed the students along a planned route as they performed choreographed movement at selected sites, supported with sound (both live vocals and recorded music) and a few props.

For Come Join the Circus HOOP-LA collaborated with choreographer Christina Houghton and the students, who were encouraged to approach the public realm as a place in which improvised performance is allowed. As such we likened the activities we were undertaking to other forms of urban performance such as parkour (free running) and flash mobs.

Using improvisation tasks and games the students responded to the physical nature and spatial qualities of the town centre with their own physicality—posing on jutting concrete curbs, vaulting benches, hanging off glass walls by their fingertips, placing wet hand-prints to mark hot concrete columns—generating a kinaesthetic dialogue with the complex material, spatial and social attributes of this urban field.

From this exploration of the existing urban realm in New Lynn ideas were developed to inform the design of the new park. As just one example, from the enthusiastic response to the sloped, grassy embankment we recommended that the new urban park also employ such contoured landscapes, producing immediate adjacencies between Rangi and Papa (sky and land).

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Collaborators & Credits

Christina Houghton

New Lynn Primary School year six students