This year’s Buskers Festival will bring a myriad of exciting and eclectic performers from all around the world, including Australian performer Jaimi Luhrmann. Jaimi will be introducing us to her alter-ego Masked Mime when she comes to Coffs for the festival. FOCUS catches up with her for a chat …
What first drew you to performing and mime?
As a child, I took singing, dance and gymnastic classes, along with speech and drama classes. At the age of 6, I was taught a one minute mime piece, and my mother immediately noticed my talent in this field. I competed in many Eisteddfods, performing mime, where I received first place for every performance. Physical Theatre (mime) became my passion, so I decided to link this with clowning. After researching clown teachers, I discovered Flipside Circus (a youth circus) and immediately joined. I enhanced my skills by taking private lessons for juggling and physical theatre. At this time, I also joined the theatre group Zen Zen Zo (young physical acting classes).
Who are some of your idols?
During my training, I was inspired by Davey Sampford (professional juggler, circus performer and Flipside trainer) who taught me juggling and Andrew Corey (Artistic Director of Backbone Youth Arts), who became my private trainer of physical movement. At the age of 14, I knew I wanted to be a circus performer after seeing the Cirque Eloize show Rain and meeting and having a private juggling lesson with the lead performer Stephane Gentilini, who is my idol, along with Russian Circus Performer and clown teacher of mine, Ludwig Schukin.
What are some of the challenges you face in your line of work?
On a daily basis I face many challenges. I am always training and perfecting new tricks and choreographing new performance pieces. Keeping fit, healthy and trying to keep free of injury is paramount in this industry.
What do you love about what you do?
I love performing and engaging with my audience. If I can let them into my world and take them to a happy or safe place and touch their hearts for a little while, then I am grateful. I just love meeting and being with people of all ages.
You’ve enrolled yourself in a circus school. Tell us about the school and the training that you are undertaking.
I am currently in my second year of study at the National Institute of Circus Arts, where I will complete a Bachelor Degree in Circus Arts. On a daily basis I train – tumbling and hand stands, followed by classes of ballet, contemporary dance, juggling, mime, mental and physical health and safety classes.
You’ll be performing at the Coffs Harbour Buskers Festival in September. Tell us about the show(s) and the characters you will be introducing us to at the festival.
At the Coffs Harbour Festival you will be introduced to the Masked Mime and her friends (puppets). Masked Mime is a fun, quirky female mime who enjoys entertaining people and making friends, whether they are people or animals (puppets). I’m currently working on another act and character, but I’m gonna keep that one a surprise.
What are some of the other festivals/events you have performed at?
For the past 7 years I have performed at the Woodford Folk Festival as a solo performer and with Big Star and Flipside Circus. I have performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and have had a number of television appearances, including Sunrise, Totally Wild and Toasted TV. Other performances have included numerous corporate functions, including ANZ and Optus.
I performed a solo act at the Brisbane Convention Centre for the RSPCA and Roma Street Parklands Australia Day celebrations, along with performing at Australia Zoo. In January this year I was employed by Strut and Fret to perform for a week in the Brisbane Queen Street Mall for the Children’s Gala. Strut and Fret also employed me to perform at South Bank Brisbane. (Umbrella Revolution.)
Have you won any accolades so far?
In 2008 I received the highest mark in Australia for my Trinity Speech and Drama performance Exam. I am currently studying to become a Speech and Drama teacher through London Trinity College.
Last year I entered the Busking by the Bay competition and received second place. I also won the prize for the opportunity to perform at the Coffs Harbour International Busking festival this September.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My dream is to one day be a part of an international travelling circus or travel the world with my own team or as a solo artist. Later I see myself opening a creative arts circus school and teaching and producing circus shows.