On Helping Others to Fly Higher, Aerial & the Circus

Eve Gordon

July 1, 2019

Two years ago I overheard people at work talking about taking aerial circus classes, which I always wanted to try. I did my first class at The Dust Palace school and was so inspired by the community and the spirit that two years on, I am still dangling in the air attempting to look graceful. Behind this wonderful circus community is Eve Gordon and her partner Mike Edward. I am so honoured to interview Eve and hear about her journey.

Eve, tell us a bit about your background and how the love for circus started for you?

I studied acting at Unitec 2000-2002 and there I met a lady who had been one of the founding company members of renowned physical theatre company “Legs on the Wall” in Australia. She taught us some basic balance acrobatics and I was super inspired by the storytelling possibilities that kind of extreme physicality had to offer. From there I sorted out any circus training I could and got more and more imputed by the superhuman capabilities of circus performance and how they might engage an audience to make them feel a story in a raw and guttural way.

You are not only an incredible performer, you also run a theatre company and teach! What have been some of the main challenges for you on your journey?

To be honest I struggle to have time to teach nowadays! The biggest challenges for me have been in learning how to run a business, simply how much effort and time and money a business takes to run and how much it needs to be prioritised in my daily life.

Do you have any favourite milestones / breakthroughs that made it all worth it?

This year presenting the Goblin Market in Auckland we got a review which didn’t say the usual things about how physically adept and beautiful we were but brought every choice back to the story we were telling, which gave us such heart that we’re getting the storytelling right and that people are able to take our work in on that level first and foremost.

Image credit: SKYCITY and Frances Oliver
Image credit: SKYCITY and Frances Oliver

What were some of the valuable things and people that supported you on in creating The Dust Palace and its wonderful culture?

Oh my gosh, every person who is with us is so so valuable in creating and maintaining the culture of a beautiful, creative, supportive, inclusive hub. Mikey and I made and continue to make a clear decision to treat any decision or situation with abundant thinking - if we can love and give and always be generous no matter how tough it is for us or the company then everyone wins. And life it too hard to make anything more difficult for anyone.

For a lot of the people at Dust Palace circus is their main endeavour and for some it is a beloved hobby. How do you create an environment that supports both?

I’d never consciously thought about this. One of the amazing things about the new space is that the professional team can train during classes and I think this is not only incredibly inspiring for the newer students but it also serves to allow the core team to profess more.

Taking a leap into creative industries must be quite a scary thing, viewed as ‘unconventional’ for most people. What do you think inspires people to do it and what needs to happen for more people to get into it?

It’s not only unconventional but super super difficult to survive in. I think to be a professional in circus in New Zealand you need to love it so much - it’s barely a choice.

I think getting more people involved in circus comes down to a couple of factors: supporting the notion that circus is a possible career path as best as we can, growing the reputation and perceived validity of circus as an art form in New Zealand and generally pushing awareness of the benefits of circus training: balance, confidence, flexibility, longevity, etc.

We know that the industry can be unkind to artists sometimes asking to do a lot of work for free. What advice would you give to someone who might be considering pursuing creative industries as a profession?

Know your value and fight for it and know that there are plenty of people in the industry that will support you and fight for you too. We all have to fight constantly to have our work valued and we need the strength in numbers to keep us all safe.

Image credit: Whenua Film - Tashy H'ng
Image credit: Whenua Film - Tashy H'ng

The Dust Palace has just moved to a new beautiful space! What are you looking forward to / working towards next?

We’re very much looking forward to the time when this new space isn’t losing money and is supporting itself.

You have done so many incredible things on your journey. Do you have any advice for someone who might not be too sure about their mission / passion and might be feeling a bit lost?

Just do what you love. If you love something no matter how hard it might be to live, you’ll at least be fulfilled in your soul.

Are you learning / pondering about anything right now that you would like to share?

How to not go under??? Hahahaha

Image credit: Dave & Debbie Tose, 2D Photography
Image credit: Dave & Debbie Tose, 2D Photography

What are you looking towards / your goals in the next 5 years that are more personal to you / not related to The Dust Palace?

The work that Mikey and I are doing at the moment is super exciting for me, well for both of us to be fair! It's a long slow process but we should come up with a result that no one has seen before! In addition to that, we're hoping to take our family to Tokyo and at some point walk the Camino Real in Spain. I also want to prioritise breaks and sanity...

And finally, whose story would you want to be shared on here?

Rochelle Mangan, Mikey Edward, Ella Edward or Edward River Clendon

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