Meet Kate, our new community programme manager.
We're thrilled to welcome our new Community Programme Manager, Kate Parry to the NoFit State team. We know our community members will be fascinated to meet her, so here's a quick Q&A for those of you who want to find out more about her!
Have you always worked in circus?
No, I started my professional life working for the NHS. I came to circus late in life but I think if someone had introduced me to circus as a child I would have been hooked then. I always loved physical and artistic activities, but I did not have a lot of opportunities to get involved with those types of things as a child. At that time, there were heavy local authority cuts; sadly the local gymnastics club, which I was going to, got closed and there was no PE provision at school.
The world was less paranoid then and I had a lot of freedom growing up - even in London. I used to spend hours with my friends roaming around my neighborhood, climbing trees, jumping off high things and learning acrobatic stuff in the park from other kids. I think that’s what sowed the seeds for circus. I also loved animals, and when I was 7 I started volunteering on the local Kentish Town City Farm community project. I used to go after school and all my weekends to look after the horses and help out generally to earn riding lessons. It was hard work, especially in winter, but it was worth it because it was exhilarating when I got to ride and jump the horses. It taught me a lot at an early age about the rewards of hard work, consistency, patience, and facing your fears. Those things probably prepared me well for life in the circus.
Much later in life, I developed an interest in contemporary dance and started to go to community classes after work, and discover the work of various dance companies. Ironically, it was my boss at work who suggested I try some circus having heard of a community class in south London. It sounded interesting, so I decided to go along and try some static trapeze. I was totally hooked from day 1 and a whole new world started to open up. One of my teachers suggested that I audition for professional training at the National Centre.
Amazingly, I got a place and graduated three years later with a Distinction in Circus Arts, specialising in swinging trapeze. People always used to remark how hard I worked, but it never felt like work because I enjoyed it so much, and I knew how lucky I was to have this opportunity. Since then, I have worked for a number of touring tented circuses, festivals and corporate events and spent some time in Montreal to work with Victor Fomine, one of the best coaches in the world known for developing a new technical vocabulary in swinging trapeze. It’s been an amazing journey, I have travelled the world, met incredible people in the industry and been exposed to many experiences I never expected from life.
What was it about circus that grabbed your attention?
Probably the initial attraction was the physicality and the spectacle, but as I started to develop a knowledge and taste for circus, I fell in love with its capacity to create strong visual images, to escape reality, to fill 3D space and create movement in different planes, and with the poetry of the body in action. I was also attracted by the fact that there are no boundaries in contemporary circus, it is constantly re-inventing itself, there are no rules, and it borrows from everywhere - from dance, theatre, streetforms.
Have you ever come across NoFit State in the past?
The first NoFit State show I ever saw was tabú at the Roundhouse in London. I had never seen anything like it. I loved how the performers emerged from and dissolved into shambolic chaos creating focal points and strong images – almost like a dream. It was very powerful to be so close to the performers, to see the details of their expressions, and to feel the collective emotional journey of the audience as you are drawn along with the performers. After that, I became very interested in the work of NoFit State, and saw every show that I could in London, whilst I was there.
Are you excited to work with NoFit State’s community?
Yes it’s been a dream of mine to work with NoFit State.
My passion for circus started through having the opportunity to attend community classes, and it totally changed my life. Circus can have a powerful impact on people’s lives both through performance and getting involved in learning and making it. It brings a lot of joy, but also teaches us many other things about the ourselves and the world around us. I am excited to have the opportunity to bring this to others, and to be involved with a key part of NoFit State's vision.
What is your vision for the community programme?
High-quality teaching and delivery, a programme which is accessible and answers a range of interests and needs. I would also like that the programme does more than develop technical skills, that it encourages engagement with, and participation in performances and crosses over with creative development within the company. I am also interested in promoting more exchange and links with other community projects and organisations locally and further afield.
What are the best things you’ve seen in circus (inc. performances, community, social circus etc.)?
I think if images from a show stick in your mind even some time after, then it’s done its job - even if you thought you didn’t like it at the time. The fact that it’s left you with vivid memories means that it’s had an impact and you have processed it on some level. It’s not always the things that are easy to watch that stay with you. I have seen a lot of dance that has had that effect on me – like Hofesh Schechter, Wayne McGregor, Akram Khan, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. In circus and physical theater, amongst the companies and artists that have made a lasting impression on me have been De La Guada, Les Mains les Pieds, Punch Drunk, earlier stuff of James Thierry, Victoria Chaplin, and of course NoFit State.
One of the most moving performances I have seen was my BTec students end of year show, while I was teaching at the NCCA. The group was a real mixed bag of students, of all sorts of backgrounds and abilities. Some were on the programme because they already had a strong interest in circus, others were trying something new, and some were there because they had not got on well with mainstream education and had difficulties focusing, taking instruction, working with others, and lacked confidence.
On my first day teaching them aerial I really wondered how we were going to get this unruly group to the point of performing, but week by week it was wonderful to see the change in their technical skills, confidence and personal growth. Despite a few pre-show nerves and anxieties, the show went smoothly – they were so professional and focused. They had created something genuinely poetic and intimate, and the learning, co-operation and teamwork to produce that was clearly visible on stage. That was very moving knowing where some of those kids had started and I still feel proud.
What is the best piece of advice you give to aspiring circus performers?
Do what you love, allow yourself to dream, don’t let other people’s conceptions of possibility limit you, work hard and enjoy your achievements, respect your body, know your strengths and remember failure is part of learning.
When can NoFit State community members see and meet you?
In my first weeks in post, I will be attending most of the classes to get a feel for the overall community programme and meet members. I am looking forward to chatting to members and hearing any feedback about the programme, e.g. what’s working well but also what can be done to develop and improve member’s experiences. I am also really interested in people’s personal journeys into circus and what they hope to get from the community programme. I will be at the monthly socials, and I will always open to hearing about people’s experiences and thoughts of the programme.
You can get to know Kate, and the rest of the team us at our Community Social (and pub quiz) on Wednesday 2 August, 2017 at The Four Elms Pub, Elm Street, Cardiff.