As part of our 2021 Youth Week celebrations, we caught up with Senior Zooie, Christina Godwin, to chat about her experiences with Circa Zoo, how to juggle an elite training schedule as a student, and the exciting next steps in her career.
Having trained as a gymnast and a dancer as a child, Christina found circus through Circa Classes in 2012 and fell in love with the beautiful creativity, freedom and physicality of the art form. Christina joined Circa’s elite youth ensemble in 2013 and has dedicated herself to her training since. With Circa Zoo, Christina has performed onstage alongside the Circa ensemble in major Australian festivals, travelled across Queensland to bring circus to rural communities, and collaborated with other young artists for Festival 2018 as part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games celebrations.
Specialising in handstands, tumbling, acro and trapeze, Christina is passionate about teaching, performing and directing circus and is hoping to advance into the professional space in the near future with a new local troupe, Collective Circus.
How long would you say you’ve been with Circa? And what made you start?
I’ve been with Circa Classes a long time. Probably 10 years or so. I was doing gymnastics but one of my school friends invited me to come along to try circus at Circa. I tried out a trial class, loved it and then joined a Saturday youth class.
When did you start with Circa Zoo?
I had been doing the Saturday youth classes for a few months and I was asked to audition for Circa Zoo. I got into Circa Zoolings, which at the time was a class that trained twice a week with Zoo and once separately.
I stayed in Zoolings for a while in primary school but actually stopped for a year in Grade 7. My year group was the first Queensland cohort that would start high school in Year 7 and I thought it was going to be too stressful during that transition. But it turned out that I found not training was more stressful. I needed something like circus again, so I came back in Grade 8, auditioned, and made it into Circa Zoo.
You’ve been with Zoo almost 6 years now. What did you get from Zoo that you couldn’t get from another sport or extracurricular activity?
That’s a good question. During high school, I needed something to keep me busy and active and also offer a creative outlet, which is all combined with circus. With Zoo, there is also freedom in our creative development; they try to teach you how to create work yourself and become more independent in your circus art and in your training.
When it comes to training, what are your specialities?
Well, I have been training handstands the longest and that is probably my favourite discipline. Dance trapeze is a new one I have found as well. I’ve tried them all at some point.
What would you say has been your best experience in Circa Zoo so far?
Circa Crush, for sure. In 2017 and 2018, Zoo went to Bundaberg for two weeks, training and creating with the kids from the community. We developed a show together that we performed for the Bundy audiences at Crush Festival.
How did you manage a 10-hour training week while in high school? Any time management tips you would recommend for other student artists training to an elite level?
I am going to admit that I struggled a bit, but as I said, I definitely needed circus as an outlet. I needed to be creative and have fun while I had the stress of school. Especially in year 11 and 12, when you’re supposed to be choosing your career, what you want to be doing for your entire life, you need somewhere to go that has your friends, creativity that you like, something that you enjoy.
Having set training days created structure for me. I knew when I had to actually get stuff done because I had training and I couldn’t do anything during those hours. It was really good to have that because I’m quite a procrastinator. My biggest tip is to schedule your week around training, so you know when you have time to do your homework… and stick to it.
You graduated high school at the end of last year. What is next for you and circus?
I want to be a trainer for a bit, while also developing my own stuff and get a bit more visibility as an artist. It’s pretty hard at the moment because of the pandemic, but I am in an ensemble called Collective Circus, and we are currently developing work which we can start to perform soon.
I also want to start doing stuff for myself, by myself, because I think that’s really important as an artist. I am recovering from an injury so I have had to focus on more solo work and training recently and I really like that.
Could you tell us a bit more about Collective Circus?
Myself and a few friends founded Collective Circus so that we could go out into the circus world and become more professional and grow as artists. At the moment we have 6 members, who have all met through Circa and we are working to develop our repertoire. I don’t want to give out too many spoilers but you’ll be seeing some new circus acts from us in the future.