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Emily Hughes (Circus Arts Performer)

Koonwarra can be proud of 24 year old Emily Hughes, daughter of well known Koonwarra residents, Coral and Kevin Hughes, who is completing her third year of study at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Prahran.  She was recently featured as a solo artist during the official launch of the NICA's new $10M National Circus Centre opened by Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Emily also performed an aerial ballet while dangling 20 metres above the MCG in front of 80,000 people during the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. 

Both these feats have been an amazing experience for Emily who was educated at the Koonwarra Primary School until it closed in 1993 following which she completed Grade 6 at Leongatha Primary School before going on to Mary McKillop College for her Secondary education.

Mother, Coral Hughes, said Emily developed her interest in gymnastics while playing and hanging upside down on the metal monkey bars at the Koonwarra Primary School (now the Koonwarra Sustainable Communities Centre).

Emily started dance lessons at seven and has been involved with gymnastics, acrobatics, performed with the Lisa Pellin Dancers and the Leongatha Lyric Theatre in productions such as "The Wizard of Oz, "Anything Goes" and "The Pyjama Game". 

Prior to starting the NICA course she spent two years studying musical theatre at The Dance Factory in Richmond where her studies included dance, drama and singing.  Emily's present studies at NICA combine each of these elements, together with specialised skills training in cloud swing and the tight wire in which she now specialises.  It was these two specialties she performed as solo pieces in the foyer and also during the main performance at the opening of the National Circus Centre on April 4.

How does she do it we might ask.....

Emily says concentration is the most important skill her training has required her to develop.  While walking the tight wire, most of the balance comes from her hips, but when she does the same thing in her Pointe shoes, all her balance has to come from her arms.  In both situations, the strong concentration required outweighs any nerves and with a heavy training schedule with her trainer on the ground she says there is really nothing to worry about!  A typical day of classes also includes between four and eight hours of intense physical training. 

Emily, we are in awe of you!

And now to the future - Emily is training hard for her graduation piece that she has choreographed herself.  She also hopes her future employment will enable her to travel and work throughout the world.


Update - September 2009

Emily has achieved her wish to encorporate her artistic ability with travel - 


Since May 2009, Emily has been Rigging Captain and Aerialist/Dancer on board the cruise ship, Ocean Village, for the Western Mediterranean season and the beginning of the Caribbean season. 

She performs 6 nights a week in varied productions with either a full case in the main theatre or circus shows in the Village Square.  Once a week there is a Top Deck, outdoor aerial spectacular.  Ocean Village One and Two are currently the only ships on the seas with an outdoor structure for aerial shows!

Emily was an aerialist/dancer onboard Ocean Village Two for the Caribbean season from November 2008 until April 2009 and from June - August 2008 she was Assistant to the Head of Circus at Long Lake Camp for the Arts in upstate New York.

Emily - may you continue to enjoy and succeed on this wonderful and unique path you have chosen.  The very best wishes of Koonwarra and district go with you.