Rose Chalker McGann

Interview with Rose Chalker McGann on performing with Circus Oz

By on June 12, 2017

Kyle Raftery took some time out this week to catch up with one of The Circus Spots former students, Rose Chalker McGann, as she prepares for the Melbourne Premiere of the new Circus Oz show – Model Citizens.

Rose, as a former student of The Circus Spot, we are of course incredibly proud of you, how has life been on the road with Circus Oz?

I don’t think anything could have prepared me. It’s been an amazing adventure but also a big challenge; physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s always surprising where the challenges come from, it’s not always from the things you would expect. Different venues, adjusting to the space, an ever-changing show and working so closely with a small group of people, it keeps you on your toes.

Taking classes at The Circus Spot whilst juggling life, work and study must have been incredibly difficult. How have you found the change from circus as a passion to circus as a career?

It was often hard to commit to learning circus whilst studying full-time but as I was studying arts, it fed into to my practice, I felt like I could justify it. It’s so refreshing now to be able to focus on one thing, just pay my bills and do circus. It’s intense but fun. Now I feel like I don’t have a hobby anymore!

rose ladder

Have you developed any new interests or hobbies on the road? What other strings do you want to add to your bow?

I’ve been playing the ukulele a bit. Working with Ania and Jeremy, the Circus Oz musicians, has inspired me to get back into singing. I’ve also been trying random things on tour, even golfing. My family are big golfers, I hated it as a kid but I thought I’d try it again. I’m thinking of learning a language too, maybe Spanish.

You started performing as a singer/songwriter, smashed out a degree in fine arts at VCA and have now scored a gig as an acrobat with Circus Oz. How has your passion for music and art informed your transition into a circus artist?

I’m learning lots at Circus Oz about performance, playing to an audience, staging and working with other people. I don’t feel like I’ve had enough time yet to explore integrating my art and music. At VCA I was doing a lot of performance installation work, I’m researching ways of incorporating sound, movement, visual art and circus. There are lots of ideas in my head for the future.

You focused on Tissu here at The Circus Spot, what other circus skills have you been working on during your time with Circus Oz?

Group acrobatics, ‘toss the girl’ and adagio. I’ve been basing a lot, I think I enjoy it more than flying. I’ve also been doing a bit of contortion.

Our show, A Smorgasbord of Circus is fast approaching, as a former student can you give any words of advice to our aspiring performers?

Have fun, it’s fun. Enjoy yourself.

Do you have any tips on preparing for a performance? Dealing with nerves?

I like to give myself 15 minutes in the dressing room. I play my favourite song at the time and run through everything in my head, every step. I’ve had a couple of blank moments on stage and you don’t want that so I find running through everything first calms my nerves. And do some push ups.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions?

There’s lot of old theatre superstitions I didn’t know about that I’ve had to learn on the road. I don’t like any talk of breaking a leg or breaking anything else. In any lucky situations I have to touch wood so I guess I’m a little superstitious, there’s no harm in touching wood if it makes you feel better.

Rose Chalker McGannMany of our students and coaches are excited about the Melbourne premiere of Model Citizens, what can they expect to see?

I don’t know exactly because we are adding two new acrobats so I haven’t even seen the full show! The show is moodier than previous years but still full of comedy, particular Australian humour. There’s an element of looking at Australian culture, not providing any solutions, just opening the door to look in on the way we are. We are so multi-cultured and that’s reflected in the show, what is a model citizen in today’s society? Every performer has their own idea about what a model citizen, no one version is better or worse, just different perspectives.

So do you have a favourite moment in the show?

There’s a moment when everyone is onstage and taking the piss, it’s a nice moment where we aren’t doing any tricks, we are just having fun and the audience is coming along with us… it involves sheep.

A Smorgasbord of Circus is on 23-25 of June at the Darebin Arts Centre.
Tickets available:

Circus Oz Model Citizens is on 20 June – 16 July at Birrarung Marr.
Tickets and info can found here


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Kyle studied at NICA with Daniel, they were actually stretching buddies all through first year! He specialised in unicycle and flying trapeze whilst dabbling in juggling, clown and group acrobatics. Kyle has spent the last three years as a full time performer with Circus Oz. He also plays the trumpet, scuba dives and makes a great coffee!