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Published on September 10th, 2018 | by Admin

Zion Martyn Interview (Company 18, NICA)

You have a martial arts background, what’s your favourite style and why?

My favourite style to practice was Bujinkan, which is a combat system with a versatile and practical approach. It has that discipline and repetition of key forms and concepts that makes it distinct. I particularly loved that it uses a variety of traditional Japanese weapons and language, which meant I learnt not only the martial art but also the culture.

Why do you think martial arts incorporate so well into the circus arts?

The training is actually very similar except instead of taking people down to the floor you are lifting them up off the floor, which uses similar muscle groups and can be trained with the same exercises. Martial arts teach you to use muscle memory to react when under pressure – this is no different to how you have to train for the stage.

You also do contortion work… how did you come into this?

Actually I had no idea that contortion was a thing until I was about 15, when a gymnast friend of mine saw me doing some high kicks and asked if I could do the splits. From years of high kicks in martial arts, I was apparently very good at the splits!

 What’s the biggest challenge with contortion work?

For me personally the most difficult thing is doing it safely, there are a lot of wrong ways to train and perform contortion. That is why it is so important to learn it properly from someone who knows their stuff.  

Is contortion possible for everyone or do you have to be ‘born’ into it?

There are many different styles and acts within contortion, so I think anyone could do contortion, to an extent. There are definitely people who are naturally better suited for it than others. I have always been exceptionally flexible in my forward bending, but my middle splits was naturally very bad. With training I can now do both.

 Tell us a little about your performance in Company 18?

My fiancé and performance partner Poppy Fairbairn was previously a ballerina and we have created an act where she does ballet on my shoulders and head (this is called adagio en pointe), as well as a large array of other partner acrobatic skills. It is sort of like a fusion between the ballet and the circus worlds!

What are you most excited about presenting in Company 18?

I am extremely excited to unveil our newest skill, pointe on head! This is essentially where my partner stands on one pointe shoe on top of my head and I balance her there without using my hands. It’s much trickier than you might imagine. It has taken us about four years of trial and error and is finally ready to be performed. No skill has required so much time and dedication from me before and I am overjoyed that it has all paid off.

Can you walk us through your training routine?
Currently with Company 18 coming up, our training is mostly in the morning and generally consists of warming up at 8:30am, followed by two hours of specialty training with our trainers. After that is another two hours of self-directed training – currently that time is mostly used for running our act multiple times. Then there is a one hour lunch break followed by three hours of group acts and show runs. 

What’s your favourite act in this current performance?
I think that all of the acts have very unique and personal qualities and as such it’s hard to pick a favourite. I have very much been enjoying our year’s Clown (Ciara Thorburn) though, and her insanely quirky stylized character. Without saying too much, it involves bubblegum and balloons and is a must see!

Lastly, where do you think you will be in 10 years’ time Zion?
In ten years’ time I hope to have had many years of international touring experience and have started a circus family with my partner. We exclusively perform duo acts and have made it our goal to tour and travel the world together, all while having a family of our own. We are proper circus carnies!

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