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NIDA MFA and BFA students travel to NICA for pluri-disciplinary collaboration project

Students studying circus arts, acting, directing and design came together to make new work at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne.

 NIDA MFA and BFA students travel to NICA for a pluri-disciplinary collaboration project

Photo: Students studying acting, circus arts, directing and design come together to make new work

Last month, NIDA Master of Fine Arts Directing, Design and second year Bachelor of Fine Arts Acting students came together at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) in Melbourne to collaborate with students in the Bachelor of Circus Arts program.

Initiated by NICA’s Performance Studies Coordinator, Zebastian Hunter, NIDA’s Deputy Director/Deputy CEO and Head of Design for Performance, Michael Scott-Mitchell, and facilitated by NICA’s Movement Studies Coordinator, Meredith Kitchen, the week culminated with a series of engaging performance outcomes.

Students presented short works incorporating design, direction, acting and circus – with many students stepping outside their specialty areas, or onto a circus apparatus for the first time. NIDA’s Director of Acting, John Bashford, and NIDA’s Artistic Counsel and Deputy Director Graduate Studies, Egil Kipste, also took part in the collaboration.

‘Our second year Acting cohort travelled to Melbourne to work on a collaborative project with their peers from NICA. Over the week they spent together they shared skills from their respective training and created original responses to provocations by NIDA’s MFA Directors. The final day of the project culminated in a sharing of these works; each group showing where they had progressed to as part of their workshop process,’ commented Bashford.

NIDA and NICA are part of the ARTS8 (the Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence) which presents opportunities to work with partner organisations to further the learning and networking opportunities for students. The ARTS8 has now conducted two collaborative projects as a group of eight – both incredibly successful, including a recent project at NAISDA.

A NIDA graduate (Directing, 2015), Hunter has been working closely to strengthen the partnership between the two education and training institutions. The aim was to bring together student creatives to work and learn outside of their chosen disciplines and share directing, performance and physical theatre knowledge. He is interested in widening the exposure for young directors to various art forms and opening the opportunities for NIDA's future Directing graduates to consider how circus can integrate into their future works. A recent example of this was the NIDA/NICA collaboration for Eurydike + Orpheus for our June production season.

Additionally, NICA and NIDA wanted to provide more opportunities for students to learn different performance making approaches and to forge new partnerships with emerging peers in the creative industries.

‘It was a great experience to work with the actors, designers and directors from NIDA. It gave us an understanding of the different disciplines in the industry, how we can collaborate together and incorporate our skills into performances in our future careers,’ commented NICA first-year student Stephanie Pick.

NICA Executive Director, Rose Stephens, added, ‘To see the final presentations, after only one week together, was both surprising and rewarding. The commitment by staff and students was superlative. I am very proud of the work done and do hope that this project will continue in the future. I know that these sorts of collaborations can only enhance the learning and experience for our students. We are very pleased with the outcomes and thank NIDA for participating.’

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