DANNY LEE SYME
CREATIVE DIRECTOR & ARTIST
CIRCUS & THEATRE
Cirko Kali is brand new cross-genre performing arts company born out of the seismic energy of Ōtautahi/Christchurch & Ōhinehou/Lyttelton.
Danny is a sixth-generation Cantabrian of Scandinavian/Germanic/British descent and identifies as Tangata Tiriti. He is a cross-genre director, producer, choreographer, manager, teacher and performing artist, with extensive experience in circus, martial arts, physical theatre, acting and dance. He was a founding member of the Christchurch Circus Trust, The Loons Circus Theatre Company and Circotica. He is trained in martial arts since youth & achieved an Oceania Gold Medal in Kung Fu/Wushu in 2014. He holds a National Certficate in Māori Studies, Diploma in Circus Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies, & has attained his Master of Professional Practice in Performing Arts. Danny is a trailblazer and at the forefront of circus and physical theatre in Aotearoa/NZ, and has recently established Cirko Kali as a continuing framework to grow & develop performing arts in Canterbury and nationally.
Danny regularly teaches classes & workshops to all ages and abilities at Children's Imagination Academy, St Margaret's College, Cashmere High School, and various other spaces in Christchurch and throughout the country. He is a multidisciplinary artist and mainly specialises in: aerial arts, adagio, floor acrobatics, mime, clown, slapstick and stage combat. His style is holistic, agile, diplomacy wrapped in humour. He sits on the Christchurch Creative Communities Scheme as an assessor, on the Little Andromeda Arts Trust committee, and is currently Chairperson for Aotearoa New Zealand Circus Association (ANZCA).
Before joining the C.P.I.T Circo-Arts programme in 2004, he traveled around NZ performing Capoeira by day & Drum & Bass emceeing by night. Upon graduating in 2006 as an acrobat, aerialist & clown under the tutelage of master-clown Stanislav Shchukin (Moscow State Circus), he went on to cut his teeth as a core-member of the Loons Circus Theatre Company (Lyttelton) under theatre director Mike Friend from 2007 to 2011. The Loons trail-blazed the circus theatre genre in NZ with multiple productions including: 'Arabian Nights', 'Oak', 'Happy Home Road', 'Hanussan - Berlin Burlesque' and 'Macbeth'. But they were most well-known for their show 'The Butler' which toured NZ before going to London.
In 2013, he became creative director & co-founded Circotica, a circus company that went on to produce many shows, performances, and collaborations including: 'Circus AllSorts' (Christchurch City Council), 'The Vaudeville Affair' (Rollicking Entertainment), 'Caterpillars' (Kallo Collective, Finland), and 'A Winters Tale' (Free Theatre).
In 2016/17 Circotica received city council arts funding to ReBuild & open a new circus training facility school in Christchurch.
Roll on 2019, Danny moved on to create Cirko Kali as an evolution of the his eclectic background. Soft launching in a collaboration with Kallo Collective (Finland) with 'Only Bones v1.5', a series of minimalist solo-shows performed by different artists internationally. & co-creating 'The Muse' with Celina Nogueira, an innovative and exploratory duo act blending live painting, acrobatics, & lighting, and who helped with the establishment of the Lyttelton Cirko Arts programme in collaboration with Project Lyttelton.
2020 & Cirko Kali becomes official - spearheading multiple large-scale events in collaboration with large organisations including: Christchurch City Council, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance & St Margaret's College.
In 2021 Danny co-directed Tūmahana with prolific Toi Māori director Juanita Hepi, in collaboration with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, premiering at the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium, Christchurch Town Hall. Devised & developed in residency at the Ron Ball Studio throughout 2020; Tūmahana is a bicultural performance unique to Te Waipounamu/The South Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand, retelling the Ngāi Tahu creation story weaving together Māori theatre, acrobatic/aerial visual arts, Toi Māori and Tāonga Pūoro with orchestral music.
2022 continues to see Cirko Kali spearheading many small to large scale projects in collaboration with other artists and various organisations including: Chambers Music Christchurch, CCC, The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Human Performance - Parakiore Recreation Facility, and Children's Imagination Academy.
The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora and Cirko Kali established Project Altiora, a brand new performing arts venue at the Gym building of the Arts centre. Project Altiora was successful in its application for the MCH Regeneration Fund and is set to open the new venue in 2023.
In 2023, Danny became Chairperson at Circotica Circus School.
2018 - Master of Professional Practice: Performing Arts. Otago Polytechnic.
2014 - Bachelor of Arts: Media Studies. Massey University.
2008 - National Certificate in Maori Studies. Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
2006 - Diploma in Circus Arts. ARA Canterbury Institute.
First Aid Responder
CHRISTCHURCH TOWN HALL 50th Anniversary 2022
TE PIKI O TĀWHAKI at TŪRANGA - WORD FESTIVAL 2022 - Stage Manager
TURN UP THE HEAT FESTIVAL 2022 - Chilli Circus Show & TUTH Cabaret
LYTTELTON ARTS FESTIVAL 2022 - Cabaret and Workshop
PUAKA / RIGEL - Tīrama Mai 2022 - Christchurch City Council
TE TAU HOU - Kapa Haka Circus Fusion 2022 with Ngā Toi o te Rangi and the Christchurch Circus Trust
KĀ WHETŪ - Tīrama Mai 2021 - Christchurch City Council
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE with Oblivion Westwood & No Trace Events, Queenstown 2021
TŪMAHANA with Christchurch Symphony Orchestra at ChCh Town Hall 2020/2021
RHYTHM AND ALPS 2020
WHAT NOW TV 2020/2021
DANCING LIKE THE STARS 2020 at Isaac Theatre Royal
FIRE & ICE - ChCh is Lit 2020 - Christchurch City Council
TOGETHER ALONE - Covid 19 Lockdown 2020 Online Project with Kallo Collective, Finland
LOVER (Official Music Video) by musician Kate Owen
THE MUSE - Splore Festival 2020 - UV live painting and acro show with Celina Nogueira
ONLY BONES v1.5 2020 - Solo Performance - Kallo Collective, Finland
AKAROA FRENCH FESTIVAL 2019
WINTER CIRCUS 2019 - Circotica, Christchurch City Council
CATERPILLARS 2018 - Kallo Collective, Auckland Museum
SKITTLES 2017 - Circotica, Lyttelton Arts Factory
VALENTINES CABARET 2017, Lyttelton Arts Factory
WILD 2016 - Circotica, Papa Hou, Christchurch
CIRCUS ALLSORTS 2014/2015 - Circotica, Aurora Centre
GOLD MEDALIST 2014 - Kung Fu/Wushu championships New Zealand/Oceania
THE MOVIE STAR 2014 - The Body Festival/Dunedin Fringe Festival
CIRCUS KATHMANDU 2014 - Head Trainer and Manager, Nepal
CAMPBELL LIVE TV3 - Co-Host and Performer
THE VAUDEVILLE AFFAIR - Collaboration ChCh NZ
THE BUTLER - The Loons Circus Theatre Company, New Zealand & London
COFFS HARBOUR BUSKERS FESTIVAL 2013 Australia
CIRCUS QUIRKUS NZ Tour 2013
WELLINGTON CIRCUS FESTIVAL 2013
ASCEND - Writer and Director, Christchurch Circus Trust 2012
MACBETH 2011 - The Loons Circus Theater Company, Christchurch Arts Festival
HANUSSAN: PALACE OF BURLESQUE 2010/2011 - The Loons Circus Theatre Company, New Zealand
THE WORLD BUSKER FESTIVAL
CIRCUS PROMS with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
GRAVITY AND OTHER MYTHS 2007/009 - Fuse Circus - Winner of 'Best Outdoor Theatre' Wellington Fringe