It’s a show that speaks to every generation. Traversing age, language and gender, 360 ALLSTARS has taken its revolutionary urban circus around the world—now it’s making its official Canberra debut at Canberra Theatre Centre.
From 4–8 April, the theatre will come to life with BMX, breakdancing, rap and drumming, showcasing diverse artforms that were born in the streets and mastered at the hands of these elite performers.
While each discipline is unique and the embodiment of ‘cool’, 360 ALLSTARS creates a harmonious, supercharged circus production. As the wheels of the BMXs spin in an almost balletic way, so too does a break-dancer whose head spin defies the laws of gravity. Themes of circularity and rotation continue to connect each artform, guiding audiences forward and, at times, forcing them into an unexpected 360.
For creator and ALLSTAR drummer Gene Peterson, it’s here that the production finds its broad reach—connecting audiences all over the world to a sense of childlike wonder, joy and, above all, fun.
“Each of the artforms in the show is replacing a traditional stereotype circus art form with a contemporary street style,” he explains. “So instead of acrobats, we have breakdancers, rather than a juggler, there’s a basketballer, and when you would expect unicyclists, there’s a BMX flatland rider. Everything’s been given that contemporary urban spin, and that has created our new brand of circus, which we’re very proud of.”
“It was actually born from a very childlike approach and asking: ‘How many types of awesome can we get on stage together? Who’s the best in the world in all these art forms?’ That’s why I think it appeals to such a broad audience because everyone has an inner child— fun is universal.”
As audiences immerse themselves in this visceral and physical production, you have to remind yourself that these disciplines were never made for the theatre stage. From the incredible live music, the magnetic lighting design, stunning video projections and world-class talent, the production is carefully considered, seamlessly spreading urban roots into the theatre space.
And while adaptation has been vital in this transformation, Gene says that each performer maintains their authenticity, reflecting closely the community and culture in which their discipline was born.
“We’ve been conscious of making sure that each artist has the freedom, artistically, [to show] their discipline in the light that they believe represents that authentically. Obviously, as a director, it’s my responsibility to make sure everything comes together cohesively, but also that the ALLSTARS have that artistic ownership to build and work together to create their routines.”
The result is an experience of surprise and possibility, with each athlete pushing new limits in a theatrical whirlwind. Gene says it’s a testimony to the ALLSTAR performers, who continue to evolve and reinvent the limitations of their discipline and, in the process, inspire future athletes and performers.
“Instead of these disciplines staying a niche art form, with a select few practising in that field, we can showcase them to the world and inspire the next generation of artists that will practice that field too,” he reflects.
“Because at the end of the day, they are all the best of the best but what they’ve all done is found a way to make this their life in their own unique way. Whether your interest even belongs in this show or not, it’s just great for kids to be able to see people following their dreams in what is not a stereotypical career.”
Gene also notes that while 360 ALLSTARS has impressively performed to over 10 million people and sold-out shows on Broadway and at the Edinburgh Fringe and Sydney Opera House, for the first time in its ten-year history, Canberrans will experience the magic of 360 ALLSTARS. A production that invites us in, finds human in the extraordinary and allows the world to feel endlessly round—a 360 point of view we can take out of the theatre and into the streets.
“Whether you are a 90-year-old grandmother, a six-year-old boy, or someone in between, it doesn’t really matter who you are – you’re going to have a great time. It is really a feast for the senses.”
“We had this lovely 75-year-old man who came up to us just last week after the show who came by himself—which is not super common for us—and he said, ‘I just want to tell you, I’m not really into the hippity hoppity, but that was fantastic.’ Which is exactly what we want. Someone who doesn’t even believe that they’re the right audience member and come out of it just thrilled.”
What: 360 ALLSTARS
When: 4–8 April
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre