Big Village – Digital


A new commission for Upswing for the UK/Australia 2021-22 season with British Council Australia. 

About the project

Big Village – Digital is a curated conversation, a manifesto for action for the future, supporting the development of global majority artists and companies. 

Through a series of short films and public online conversations, Big Village – Digital will profile and celebrate the work of artists and companies outside of the unspoken cultural values that prioritise the canon of ‘literary theatre’ and historically the work of white writers.

Big Village – Digital will bring together makers who are not only bringing new stories to our creative spaces, but are also pioneering new modes of articulation and expression, using populist art forms like circus and cabaret to create performances led by the body that challenge colonial and class-based notions of art.

Upswing is partnering with Casus Circus (Brisbane, AUS), and a total of six companies, 3 in Australia and 3 in the UK, will create a digital space where over the course of 4 months we will share our working practices and think about what is needed to support and develop global majority artists and companies across the arts. 

We will open these dialogues up to a wider audience in a final event – “Sharing the Past – Developing the Future” – a conversation highlighting what we have learnt from our exchange.

About the companies

An aerialist dangles backwards from an aerial rope in a dark room. A spotlight shines on them.

Upswing Aerial (UK)

Upswing is a leading contemporary circus company, whose productions and creative engagement programmes use circus to unite people from different backgrounds, uncover the extraordinary potential in humans and explore the ideas and stories that can connect us as communities.

A woman is lifted into the air wearing a red leotard

Casus Circus (AUS)

CASUS is an established touring company of 16 acrobats that originated in Brisbane, now a recognised leader in contemporary circus on the international stage. Inclusion and diversity are at the forefront of their work, giving light and energy to stories that are often absent from our stages, or heavily stereotyped.
A group of performers dressed in costumes stand together closely

The Cocoa Butter Club (UK)

The Cocoa Butter Club was born as a protest and challenge to the performing arts landscape. We set out to fill a cultural void. We strive to “decolonise & moisturise” the stages of London, UK, & aboard, redistributing the narrative of bodies of colour, providing agency and autonomy in celebrating our capabilities.  
A woman balances on a white aerial rope and puts her hand out in a darkly lit room.

Na Djinang Circus (AUS)

Na Djinang Circus is a Melbourne based circus company working with diverse young artists to share unique insight with the next generation’s Hands & Feet.   We are a First Nations led company and the directorial style of our work imbues traditional and contemporary styles of performance with stories and styles of indigenous performance.    

Collectif and then… (UK)

Lucie Maisha N’Duhirahe is a circus artist and maker of mixed heritage African diaspora. She graduated from NCCA (London) in 2009 and is the co-founder of the award-winning circus company Collectif and then… creating work on a diverse range of platforms, from rural west African regions to London’s theatres.

House of alexander (AUS)

In the name of Alexander the Great, House of Alexander is Meanjin’s (Brisbane) pioneering ballroom house, founded in 2019 by Ella Ganza (Mother of the House of Alexander & Daughter of the Iconic Father Javier Ninja) together with Joshua Taliani (Father of the House of Alexander).

Key Dates and outcomes

Upswing will be launching the six films, alongside a public online curated conversation in March 2022. Be sure to follow our InstagramFacebook and Twitter accounts, or sign up to our mailing list to get live updates.

Digital Film Premiere
9 March 2022
9am (GMT) 7pm (AEST)

Curated Conversation
22 March 2022
9am (GMT) 7pm (AEST)

Learn more about the UK/AU season here

Learn more about Big Village – Digital Here

The UK/Australia Season is a joint partnership between British Council Australia, British Council, Australia House London and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.