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Chasing Smoke Q&A

Samoan performer Natano Fa’anana has taken an unconventional path to performing arts, breaking into the industry in his 30s.

By Tamara Howie

Now, Fa’anana is the co-founder and creative director of Casus Circus, and is bringing Chasing Smoke, an all-Indigenous circus show, to the Darwin Festival. 

Fa’anana sat down with Off The  Leash with some advice for aspiring performers.

How did you get to where you are today and how did you learn your skills? 
A lot of humble pie and hard work. I first tried circus at the age of 29 and fell so much in love with the craft that I pursued a career in circus in my 30th year. Having not had conventional circus training I am what I call ‘backyard trained’. I learned from individuals and trained wherever I could. I was always a creative person from an early age so once I attained enough skills as an acrobat I began using circus as my canvas and created works.

What practical advice would you give to young people interested in performing arts?
Don’t subscribe to trends in your chosen art practice. Create the trend.  

What were some of the unexpect-ed challenges you had along the way?
Unexpected and quite alarming is the severely poorly monitored financial worth of your art. The art we create in contemporary circus takes years of dedication and the result being one that few can actually deliver. The lack of understanding of the value of what we do as circus artists needs addressing in Australia.

What keeps you going?
Family, culture, balanced life and the ability to create. I need to keep making art. In order to create I need my ‘aiga (family) – they are like my ocean, my big mass of support. My culture is the current; it keeps the flow for my creative thoughts. Balanced life and health ensures the va’a (canoe) is in a strong and healthy condition to carry my ideas. 

Tell us more about Chasing Smoke and what attendees can expect at the Darwin Festival?
Chasing Smoke is a glimpse into the life and mind of modern day Indigenous people told through contemporary circus. We tell personal stories of culture, struggles, land issues, racism, history, pride and empowerment using circus. 

Fri 10 Aug, 7pm | Sat 11 Aug, 2pm & 7pm | Sun 12 Aug, 2pm | Darwin Entertainment Centre | See the event listing

Thumbnail and inset: Natano Fa'anana

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