On the Couch with James Brown

James Brown oncWho is James Brown?
I spent the first two decades of my life training and performing ballet, acting, gymnastics and circus.  In 2001, I moved from my hometown Brisbane to Melbourne, to study and train at The National Institute of Circus Arts. This was a 3 year, intensive Bachelor of Circus Arts course where I specialised in Hand Balancing, Duo / Group Acrobatics, and Russian Bar.

In 2006 I started a new and vibrant contemporary circus company ThisSideUp. The independent company presented the Controlled Falling Project, which has been touring Australia and Europe for the past 6 years. In 2011 / 2012 I had shoulder surgery, so took some time off performing and was offered the role as Festival Director of the North Melbourne community arts street festival, Spring Fling.

I was also part of the triple Helpmann awarded smash hit show, Smoke and Mirrors. In 2013 my company Acrobatica was awarded best international show, at the World Buskers Festival, Christchurch NZ. Most recently I performed in the world premiere musical King Kong at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne and was awarded a Helpmann for best ensemble.

I like to build things, my father and I spent 3 months renovating my house last year. I learnt a lot and gained so many good memories.  I enjoy working things out, if I don’t know to do something – I jump on YouTube and research or just give it a go. I might have to do it again but the process is fun. I also love to Snowboard, here in AUS and NZ.

Who inspires you and why?
All those people who do what they want to do, the people who are passionate, the people who did not just say; ‘that’s too hard’ and sell out.  Anyone who takes the time to run a small company – it’s a hard road. The arts industry is tough and I wish there was a bit more support for the ‘little people’.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
To make live performance, circus, theatre, dance etc. more accessible to people who would not usually see shows.  This extends to low-income families, disadvantaged individuals and regional areas.  Get people up off the couch and into a theatre.  There is something magical about seeing incredible artists performing live, not just on the TV.  The theatre or a live performance is an experience.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
For 4 years my company ThisSideUp acrobatics where based out of Barcelona in Spain.  Before the festival season we would always fly in a week early, spend the days training and then head directly to the beach.  Here you can relax, swim and barter for 1 Euro beers. I travel so much for work and have been around the world a few times. I see my life as one big working holiday. It has been pretty amazing however living out of a suitcase can get tiring. I very rarely just holiday to holiday – I do however love my own bed and sitting on the couch watching movies.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Whenever friends come to Melbourne I take them to all my favourite restaurants and cafés. We will also go and see a show, circus, musical theatre – depends what is in town.

What are you currently listening to?
As I am answering these questions I am listening to Fleetwood Mac, not sure if my phone is on shuffle or what. Not even sure where this album came from?  I am enjoying it though.  I have also been playing Florence and the Machine  – good tunes.

Happiness is?
A Sunday sleep in with my lady, long walk with my puppy dog, coffee and home cooked café style breakfast. Taking a long weekend and hitting the ski slopes with some mates, snow boarding all day until your legs are like jelly and then retiring with a cheese platter, wine and sharing stories of the day.

James is currently co-directing Last Orders! for the National Institute of Circus Arts 3rd Year Showcase until 20 June 2015. For more information, visit: www.nica.com.au for details.

Image: James Brown