FOR several months each year the brains behind Melbourne-based Circus Oz disappear into a Port Melbourne facility known as "The Lab" to revitalise the age-old traditions of juggling, clowning and acrobatics.
It is a tricky business, said tour manager Nic Dorward, and new technology and political references are often the answer.
"In The Lab we look at circus tricks and how we can present them in different ways or in a way that makes sense to people today," he said.
Some of the latest offerings born from The Lab make it to the stage in From the Ground Up, which opened at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre last night.
The stunt-driven performance is set around a faux construction site, and features subversive humour and beats from Oz's drums.
The 14-member ensemble includes hip-hop-dancing ringmistress Ghenoa Gela, who, with song and monologue, serves as the mouthpiece for much of Oz's message against racism.
Gela and acrobat Dale Woodbridge are graduates of the group's Indigenous Master Class, which aims to draw indigenous talent to the 34-year-old circus.
The ensemble includes Jeremy Davies as tragic magician Magic Hammond and juggling aficionado Hazel Bock.
From the Ground Up continues until September 16. Tickets are $59, discounts available.