Reflections on the power of refraction

“CANBERRA’S home of circus”, Warehouse Circus, is about to stage a midwinter blockbuster aimed at getting audiences to “explore the world in a brand new light”.

Twenty five-year-old Nathan Anderson is directing the show, “Refract”, and the concept is all his. Well, nearly all. He’s based it on a quotation from British philosopher Alan Watts, who once said: “The whole universe is just a refraction of the single consciousness”.

With 17 young people, aged 12 to 20, on stage displaying skills in juggling, “toss the girl” (in this case, it’s more toss the boy), pair-balancing and huge pyramids, it will probably be more dizzying than refractive.

Anderson enthuses about “Refract” to “CityNews”, saying: “The main concept is driven by me, but the kids have been given a lot of free rein, so it’s almost 50-50 group work and my own concept.”

Anderson says he got the idea when he and a friend were looking up at the stars and talking about the universe.

He says: “The idea is that one thing passes through another medium, and many things can come out at the end seeming quite different.” Like refraction, but in movement.

The physical imagery in the production will not involve astronomical symbolism, although there are mirrors to get the sense of intuition.

“We don’t literally do any refracting, though,” he says.

Anderson, who has been with Warehouse for 10 months, previously coached gymnastics at the national level with the Woden Valley Gymnastics Club.

He sees no contradiction between gymnastics and circus – one is technical and the other artistic. His mum was a classical ballerina and he attended classes in classical and contemporary dance before taking gym at age 12, so he sees circus through the artistic prism.

“Circus is a great creative venture, combining the acrobatic and gymnastic disciplines,” he says.

The show has a story about a sailor travelling down the river. He attracts the attention of a siren, who finally approaches him and there’s “a bit of interest, some sort of connection, but not love”.

Sirens, tumbling, flipping, flying, throwing and catching – but no love. How cool is that?

“Refract”, Warehouse Circus, Belconnen Community Theatre, August 7-9. Bookings to



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