On the Couch with Natano Fa’anana

Natano_Fa'anana oncWho is Natano Fa’anana?
A Samoan circus artist.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Live in Samoa for 3 months, tour as a performer for 3 months, direct and teach circus projects for 3 months and the other 3 months kick it with the family and eat.

Who inspires you and why?
Rudi Mineur. He’s a solid family man as well as one of Australias leading circus artists. Both strong, flexible, has killer skills and is consistently current as a progressive circus artist. All this and he is a very humble man. Love him.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’m doing it I believe. I’m a Samoan circus artist touring on the international circuit with no formal training who took the craft up at the age of 30. How it makes a difference in the world? I’m testimony that some of the most illogical life decisions based on art and passion can be the best ones.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Oh not fair I haven’t yet experienced everywhere. However one of my favourite places I’ve been was the islands of Raiatea, Tahiti and Moorea. Our French speaking cousins of the pacific. The mana and connection with other pacific islands is a beautiful one. Welcomed open arms.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I try to take them to my brothers shack off the Clarence River. Listen to LPs, make mojitos with fresh produce from the orchard, play on the aerial rigg, swim and fish. It’s pretty sweet.

What are you currently reading?
Two: Guns Germs and Steel (again) and Burger Force.

What are you currently listening to?
A show music playlist for a show I’m directing for Flipside Circus. It has everything from Dan Sultan to Balduin to Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. I love my jobs.

Happiness is?
Performing in front of my parents. Especially performing Briefs – a show my brothers and I founded 5 years ago. It’s like the ‘rock n roll’ of circus with drag and dance and burlesque parody. My parents are stoked and proud but shift between expressions of excitement and delight with confusion and horror. They’re like (In thick Samoan accent) “Oh look at my poys doing the circus… and they’re neked”

What does the future hold for you?
The immediate future: I’m touring the US and Europe with my company Casus and have submitted a funding application for a new Casus production I’ll direct (come on Australia Council!). I’m writing a new show for Briefs, I am currently co-creative director at Flipside Circus, I’m producing a project with Blackrobats an indigenous circus troupe in Kuranda and working on building ‘Cluster Arts’ a new arts service based in Brisbane that brings small circus companies together and helps alleviate administration stresses. I’m also going to Samoa in September to see UB40. Woo Hoo!!

Having grown up in a Samoan family immersed in traditional song and dance, it wasn’t until the age of thirty that Natano Fa’anana decided to pursue a career as a performer. He is the sixth member of Polytoxic Theatre Company and a co-founder of Briefs: All Male Review and contemporary circus company, Casus.

Natano’s unconventional method of learning circus from individuals rather than schools or institutions has allowed him to create a unique and stylized way of performing. Natano’s fresh approach to circus draws heavily from his Samoan roots as well as the many cultures of the Pacific.

With a broad experience in circus skills, specializing mainly in aerials, he is also a trainer for Brisbane-based companies Flipside Youth Circus, Circa and numerous community outreach arts organisations. Natano has been engaged as an arts worker for Human Ventures (formerly Speak Out), teaching circus skills, dance and music to children in some of Queensland’s most remote Indigenous communities.

Natano will be performing at the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival (CPAF) at the Footscray Community Arts Centre 9 – 11 April 2015. For more information, visit: www.cpaf.com.au for details.

Image: Natano Fa’anana