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Emma Serjeant

Emma Serjeant and Casus. Photo: SYC StudiosWhat

Circus artist Emma Serjeant received investment from Arts Queensland's Individuals Fund to expand international market and professional development opportunities through participation at the Avignon Arts Festival, France and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, UK. As an emerging circus director and producer, Emma was mentored by director and UK theatre practitioner, John Britton.

Emma originally intended to launch her solo work Jerk (which has now undergone significant redevelopment and is named Grace) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. However, due to injury she was not able to perform and instead used her time in Edinburgh to support the presentation of two shows and focussed on performance from a directorial and choreographic perspective for the first time. One of these (Smoke and Mirrors) won the Total Theatre – Circus award at the Festival.

The opportunity to engage in a diversity of work in Avignon and Edinburgh has inspired Emma to consider a new movement language for circus that is unique to her individual performance style.


July to September 2015


Avignon, France and Edinburgh, UK

Arts Queensland contribution

$6,400 – Individuals Fund  


  • Emma has begun developing a choreographic/creative language for circus practice inspired in part, by her work with Edinburgh-based movement specialist Jamie Robson. Emma and Jamie plan to deliver a movement masterclass together in Australia and Emma will undertake a residency at Bundanon in October 2016 to further investigate her new choreographic language.
  • The mentorship with UK director John Britton enabled Emma to redevelop her script for Grace and to develop new ideas for Recinto, the new work for Casus Circus that she will co-direct.
  • Seeing a lot of work and diversity of presentations in Edinburgh inspired Emma to develop ideas for productions of multi-artform collaborations to create in the next stage of her career.
  • Growing experience as a director and producer has increased Emma’s skills and opened up new career and market opportunities.

Learnings and reflections

Emma reflected on the timing of this opportunity and the impact of her injury on her experiences:

This trip came at a very significant time for me in my career. I was facing an injury that will take nine to twelve months to recover from.

Before I embarked on this trip, I thought that I was at the cutting edge, the forefront of the contemporary circus industry. After seeing so many shows, acting as a producer and gaining real industry feedback about the work that I have made so far, I really felt that it was time to question the ‘edges’ again.

I had the realisation that what we were doing had become pretty safe and in fact wasn't new, 'cutting edge' or groundbreaking anymore. It lacked some real investigative depth.

I opened my thinking to different approaches to physical movement, of which circus is an extreme version. Then I began my work with Jamie and realised there was something from his world to investigate and to apply to my circus work. I began to meet dance choreographers, a puppeteer, an actor wanting to collaborate on a theatre and circus show and a musician wanting to investigate voice and physical movement. I realised that I had something of a vision for how I could continue to explore the art form.

The relevant information I took away from the trip for the sector is the observation that there is a great body of Australian circus work being presented around the world of a high standard, and respected for its unique style. How we build on that and develop it into something even more unique and expressive is, I believe, the next challenge.

Contact for further information




Grace promo:

Smoke and Mirrors review, Edinburgh Fringe:


Image case studies page: Emma performing in Grace. Photo: Vincent Van Berkel