TSB Bank Mainstage, Nelson

19/10/2013 - 20/10/2013

TV3 Crystal Palace, Tauranga

24/10/2013 - 25/10/2013

The Famous Spiegeltent, Havelock North Domain, Havelock North

28/10/2015 - 29/10/2015

NZ FESTIVAL CLUB, Odlins Plaza, 17 Cable St, Wellington

15/03/2018 - 16/03/2018

Mayfair Theatre, 100 King Edward Street, Kensington, Dunedin

21/09/2018 - 23/09/2018

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2018

Dunedin Arts Festival 2018

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013


Nelson Arts Festival 2013

Production Details

Presented by Casus

‘Many circus shows build towards wow-factor moments, but in this piece you quickly cease to expect triumphant drum rolls because this is a show in which every single minute counts… An awe inspiring show’ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

It’s circus from the heart, astonishing skills and exquisite beauty!

After touring throughout Europe to sell out audiences and standing ovations four performers at the top of their game bring the humanity into circus through a breathtaking and fragile display of skills staged at the Nelson Arts Festival.

Casus is Australia’s hottest new circus company featuring artists who have performed with CIRCA, Polytoxic, Legs on the Wall and Briefs Collective. Their debut work Knee Deep is an inventive blend of circus and modern media using traditional and contemporary circus techniques. Through this work, the four performers explore the limitations of strength and fragility, journeying Knee Deep through moments of raw discovery, fleeting relationships and unexpected bonds. Casus gives new purpose and meaning to objects that are seemingly inanimate.

Knee Deep is a breathtaking display of humanity and incredible physical skill performed with raw emotion and honesty.

Performers – Jesse Scott, Lachlan Mcauley, Emma Serjeant and Natano Fa’anana.

‘…the actual physicality on display is so jaw-droppingly sophisticated…’ 
The Herald Sun

Hear Aly Cook on Sat 19 Oct from 6pm in the Granary Festival Café.
Hear Nelson Jazz Quartet on Sun 20 Oct from 6pm in the Granary Festival Café.  No charge.

VENUE TSB Bank Mainstage

DATE Sat 19 Oct 8.30pm, Sun 20 Oct 8.30pm
DURATION 60 mins no interval
GA Seating
Earlybird $44, Full $48
under 18 $25
Plus service fee
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Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

Thursday 24th October, 08:30pm
Friday 25th October, 08:30pm
WHERE TV3 Crystal Palace
TICKETS $40 (TECT $32)
Booking fees apply.

Casus Circus have sold out at every regional festival in New Zealand this year.

The Famous Spiegeltent, Havelock North Domain, Havelock North
Wed Oct 28th:  8pm
Thu Oct 29th:  8.15pm
General Admission:  45.00
Concession:  $39.00
Napier Return Bus Transfer:  $11.00

NZ Festival 2018  

New Zealand Festival Club, Odlin’s Plaza, Taranaki Wharf, Wellington
Thursday 15 Mar – Friday 16 Mar 2018
GA (seated) $59.00
5.30pm & 9pm
Pricing excludes service fee
More about ticket categories
Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian

Arts Festival Dunedin 2018

Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin
Friday 21 – Sunday 23 Sept
General Admission
Adult $45/$40 | Child $35

Jesse Scott
Lachlan Mcauley
Emma Serjeant
Natano Fa’anana. 

Theatre , Dance-theatre , Circus ,

1 hr

Drawn deeply in by immense skill and dedication

Review by Hannah Molloy 22nd Sep 2018

Brisbane’s Casus Circus Company describes itself as “rich in human connection, integrity, cultural diversity and precise, intelligent choreography” and its performance at the tiny Mayfair Theatre exemplifieS these characteristics beautifully.

Knee Deep is Casus’ premier work and has been performed in 22 countries and won many awards. 

The acts range through the usual circus repertoire, but the delicate, unobtrusive choreography gives them an extra intensity and the audience fluctuates between hushed reverence and impulsive applause, not to mention sharp intakes of breath and nervous laughs following a particularly daring moment. 

The four performers demonstrate their care for each other through gentle touches and shared grins. One of the aspects of circus performance that fascinates me is the absolute trust and confidence the troupe must have in each other. Being flung over someone’s head and knowing implicitly that you’ll be caught safely must provide such a sense of freedom and euphoria. 

The sound backdrop adds layers of suspense and charm – the music during the aerial hoop has weird creaking sounds which (given we were in the Mayfair), has me looking anxiously at where the ropes disappear into the grid. A French love song has the performer swaying upside down, moving as gently as water, as he balances on his hands and moves an egg cup out of his way from tiny platform to tiny platform. 

(Incorporating the show sponsor’s product into the show is clever with the eggs making occasional appearances, being stood on or carried and nurtured at great, wobbly heights.) 

The pure understanding of the physics of balance and counterbalance, action and reaction also draws me deeply into the performance. The performers’ muscles barely look as though they are being exerted while suspending or lifting a body, or several, from a height. They seem to use an absolute minimum of energy to complete feats of outrageous strength and agility. It seems to me audiences are often cynical or perhaps jaded about performing arts and the work that goes into creating them. There are few in the audience watching Casus perform who could be said to look either – the immersion in the performance is both charmed and complete. 

Arts Festival Dunedin is to be applauded for bringing Knee Deep to Dunedin, for exposing Dunedin arts lovers to work of this calibre – for its entertainment value as well as the appreciation of the immense skill and dedication of the performers. 


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Spectacle and intimacy as perfectly balanced as the artists

Review by John Smythe 16th Mar 2018

It’s the egg motif that cracks the code embedded in the remarkable Casus Circus show, Knee Deep; that lifts it beyond a display of acrobatic circus skills.   

The idiomatic phrase ‘walking on eggshells’ usually means taking extra care not to upset a volatile person but it can also mean to be careful and sensitive in handling very delicate matters. Since it was coined, a couple of centuries ago, we’ve come to realise that an egg is very strong when pressure is applied correctly – but misaligned, the fragile shell readily breaks.  

The show opens with Emma Serjent walking on eggs, stacked in trays. She carefully applies her weight evenly over each half-dozen … Thus we are alerted to the importance of getting it right and we observe what follows with heightened awareness. Transcending our amazement and their feats of flexibility, dexterity and core strength – such astonishing core strength! – is a deep appreciation of how much care and sensitivity Natano Faanana, Jesse Scott, Lachlan Mcaulay and Emma Serjent bring to their work.

To detail what they do would be banal compared to being a sensate and empathetic witness to it. Suffice to say whether they work solo, in pairs, as a trio or all together, on the floor, upright or in the air, at whatever angle or configuration, their feats exemplify care and concern for each other and, by extension, humanity – without any sense of limiting the potential of human achievement.

There are many ‘don’t try this at home’ moments. If I can discern any meaning in the Knee Deep title, it might be that they were knee deep in scientific research in the process of evolving each component of the hour-long show. While the odd broken egg can be replaced, the same cannot be said for a neck, spine or skull.

Staged in-the-round at the New Zealand Festival Club (aka the Spiegeltent), spectacle and intimacy are as perfectly balanced as the artists.


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Circus skills took my breath away

Review by Brenda Vowden 30th Oct 2015

I would travel across oceans to witness again the gravity-defying, body part-defying, awe-inspiring and take-your-breath-away magnificence of Australia’s “hottest new circus company”, Casus Circus.

Wednesday night’s show was held inside the beautiful Spiegeltent, on the second night of the two-week inaugural Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival.

Our party of four was ushered into the tent, a spectacle of stained-glass windows, hardwood mirrored pillars and velvet curtains, reminding me of a very large and ornate gypsy caravan.


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An intricately woven visual feast of physical deliciousness

Review by Kim Buckley 29th Oct 2015

An intricately woven visual feast of physical deliciousness is the choreographed Knee Deep from Australian Troupe Casus Circus  now running at The Hawkes Bay Arts Festival. These highly trained performing artists give everything they have to showcase their extraordinary talents of dance, gymnastics, yoga, acrobatic and aerial display.

At times I felt I was watching an Escher drawing come to life, at others the complex inner workings of a delicate Swiss timepiece as coils and cogs twist and turn and springs contract and release. At still others, a grand orchestra with the finely tuned instruments executing the bidding of their enthusiastic and clever conductor, as bodies fly through the air and speedily roll with athletic muscularity.

One of the ‘paragraphs’ of work revealed itself to not be a costume change but a de-clothing of one of the performers, who then used his bare-skinned body to create a percussive soundscape initiated by humourously stomping on a bug. A digital soundscape reminiscent of moth wings against a glass pane cleverly strengthened in this auditory illusion.

The choreographic techniques of canon and unison recognisable throughout the duets, trios and group work seasoned with skill and calibration. The nuts and bolts of this performance is the strength and dexterity, trust and commitment given and received in equal measure from each performer.

Each piece of work is bathed and enhanced with a particular sound, whether a ready made song with lyrics or an electronic soundscape. Without exception, individually or as an entire show, this works on a multitude of senses. I have no doubt each patron was wowed on some level.

The show finishes with a languid display of trapeze work. I feel like I’m watching thick honey or caramel in a slow motion flow as each of the four climb, roll, balance, unfurl, and pour themselves up and down each others bodies from the floor to the top of the tent and back down again. Exquisite and mesmerising music from a duet of violin and piano guide us through this powerful and calm waterfall.

The amount of exploration that has gone into the creation of this work is entirely evident. Thank you so very much for the gift Casus Circus.


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Thrilling, beautiful and emotive

Review by Gin Mabey 25th Oct 2013

The four performers of Knee Deep, the breath-taking piece by Australian company Casus, take their audience in the palm of their hands from the second they step on stage – and not a word is uttered. An hour flies by with no lag nor lull.

The TV3 Crystal Palace hosts the show, as a part of the Tauranga Arts Festival. Tauranga’s public sit in the theatre-of-the-round formulation, with a square, raised stage in the centre.  This is a great setting for catching glimpses of fellow audience members gaping and holding their breaths across the room – if you can tear your eyes away from the show.

The lights dim, performer Emma Serjeant takes the stage and walks delicately over cartons of whole eggs – they remain remarkably whole , a sign of magic to come.

Four performers demonstrate the most awe-inspiring physical feats, which you expect when anticipating a circus show, but nothing quite prepares you for this. Throughout the hour, the performers create levels that reach from the stage surface right to the tip of the big-top roof. At first they begin by using each other’s bodies to balance, climb, lift, throw and leap at thrilling speeds, angles and heights. The audience murmur and clap after particularly impressive moments such as one performer balancing on another performer’s skull; they delight in the lightness at which the female performer is tossed through the air to be caught by a fellow performer. The collision of bodies is graceful and moving.

Serjeant leads the way with individual performance. A set of poles with small round bases are set on the stage for her to twist between, balance on with one hand and spin herself with immaculate steadiness. While watching Serjeant, the ocean comes to mind – to some she might appear as though she is floating, suspended in water and is not volunteering these moves and positions, but is being moved and manipulated by the elements. She is mesmerizing to watch.

Jesse Scott, lithe and lean, gives a performance to make the crowd chuckle with sweet delight as he entertains an egg in an egg cup. Flirtatiously he keeps this egg at the centre of his attention as he demonstrates a close and creative relationship with the floor’s surface as his apparatus. He has a beautiful warmth and showmanship.

Natano Fa’anana uses a thick black strip of fabric to twist around his body, taking him higher and higher, before he lets himself spin, almost to the surface, he hangs suspended in positions that conjure images of spiders in webs – a theme of nature that is carried through in the soundscape later in the piece. 

Fa’anana introduces the aspect of body-percussion as he creates a rolling beat with his hands and body. The other three performers draw upon this feature as they come together again for a cluster of movements and hand-to-body collisions: a medley of satisfying slaps.

Toward the end of the piece, we are treated to another use of apparatus, a horizontal bar suspended from the roof. The four exquisite bodies create layers, towers, falling pendulums and at points, balance on only a hand, a foot or a skull.

The music is a perfectly picked mix of French songs, a gritty New-York style vocal, and instrumental pieces that complement the sense of each sequence. Lighting is bright and explosive at all the right moments, soft and shadowy too – definitely the work of talented and highly skilled designers. 

There is something so utterly thrilling about watching people achieve physical feats we cannot imagine being able to do ourselves, but even more so, feats that are beautiful and emotive.  An exquisite example of how the performing body can create a language of its own. We can’t hear their voices, but we listen to them nonetheless.


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Utterly engaging physicality, strength and tender fragility

Review by Lotus Hattersley 21st Oct 2013

The Nelson Arts Festival TSB Mainstage venue sets the scene perfectly as a red and white ‘big top’ for the performance of Knee Deep by Brisbane-based Casus Contemporary Circus Company.

Entering the ‘big top’ we see the performance space is a miniscule four-by-four metre elevated 360-degree stage resembling a boxing ring. We choose tiered seats as the front rows are practically on the stage.

The show begins with performer Emma Serjeant walking ever so tentatively over cartons of eggs. This action immediately draws the audience into the fragility of the moment and we don’t lose that feeling for the entire hour show. All four performers (Jesse Scott, Lachlan Mcauley, Emma Serjeant and Natano Fa’anana) then couple off in a tumbling, energetic, slightly competitive display of physical prowess.

Knee Deep is a show that is full of contrasts. Just as soon as we feel we are watching an intimate solo the pace changes to a heart-stopping trapeze act. The physical skill of the four performers is absolutely outstanding. I gasp and wow and clap my way through a delicate, poignant and utterly spectacular show.

The endurance of company is phenomenal. They barely break a sweat. With hardly a moment offstage Emma Serjeant is a performance powerhouse. At one point she holds the weight of the entire company.

Samoan Natano Fa’anana performs a breath-taking silk aerial act followed by an elaborate body percussion sasa-type dance. Lachlan Macauley and Jesse Scott add a dynamic and energetic presence. The company work in perfect synchronicity, developing different pairings and groups as the show progresses. The highlight the moments for me are when all four performers come together to show the fierce connection between them.

The show is paced well and structured into vignettes with various groupings, couples, and solos. A lot of weight-bearing acrobatics and energetic tumbling, which at times have dance like qualities, are coupled with an overwhelming control and human awareness of the performers’ limitations.

The physical immediacy of the space places the action almost quite literally on the audiences’ laps and we can’t help but be blatantly aware of the raw energy and often danger that these acts require. At times the show feels voyeuristic as little audience interaction occurs; in fact we are ignored for most of the show.

The energy is not a showy spectacular as you may expect from a circus, rather it uses quiet theatrics with an intense internal focus from the performers. As an audience we are acutely aware of the skill required for each piece as we witness the intensity of concentration and preparation from them; the gravity-defying aerial work; the extraordinarily human portrayal of what it takes to perform at this level. The exaggerated slow – almost painful – control of particular movements has us gasping in awe.

We can often take the talents of performers for granted. As viewers we elevate them to a superhuman status because of course they can do what we could only dream of doing, but Knee Deep reminds us of the reality of the show and raises our awareness of the potential limits of performers. 

During some scenes the use of two multimedia screens and an onstage camera’s live-feed close-ups can make us feel a little disconnected and distracted from the main action. On the other hand this does allow us to see close-up moments in greater detail and adds again to the immediacy of the performance. 

A great soundtrack is used to accompany the undulating rhythm of the show and build tension at pivotal moments. Lighting designer Rob Scott creates a strong definition to the space, illuminating the dramatic ceiling with gobos and highlighting the lithe and muscular bodies in a near sculptural sense.  

This show packs so much punch! It does not waste a single second. The raw acrobatics coupled with the contrast of physicality, strength and tender fragility is so utterly engaging. The intimacy of the performance space is key to the refreshing take on contemporary circus.

If you only see one show this year is should be Knee Deep.


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