A new children's production about two bees who are displaced after a bushfire is bringing circus to the stage at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, thanks to a juggling acrobat.
Robbie Curtis, 32, had finished a stint working in Paris, and was hoping to embark on a new contract with Cirque du Soleil when COVID-19 hit.
The pandemic pushed him to return home to Australia with his girlfriend Lizzie McRae, and subsequently form their own company, ARC Circus, with A Bee Story their first major work.
"It tells a poignant story about two bees who are displaced after a bushfire and how they work together to rebuild," Mr Curtis said.
"We really wanted to make a show, that coming out of COVID, a show that was really joyful and also really hopeful."
The 45-minute show is suitable for ages three and up, but Mr Curtis said they've added "sophistication" and references only mum and dad would understand.
The former Wollongong High School of Performing Arts student received a grant for the production through the MerrigongX program last year, with A Bee Story premiering at the Sydney Festival in January.
The dancer and performer has travelled the globe with some of the biggest companies in the world, and was first taught to juggle by his father.
Mr Curtis went on to join a school juggling group when living in Armidale and ended up performing at the Schools Spectacular and won several state competitions, though believed he was "punching above his weight".
Circus antics run in the family with both his mum and sister now part of Wollongong's only female troupe Circus WOW, while "Mum and Dad actually met in a political street theatre group when they were young in Sydney".
Gymnastics and dancing were two other areas which piqued Mr Curtis' interest, especially after seeing an Australian comedy-drama on the big screen.
"I really got into dancing and tap dancing after seeing Bootmen and also I was a big fan of Singin' in the Rain and Gene Kelly," he said.
The plan is now to spend the next year or two in Australia crafting more new productions, and tour their tale of a sustainable future for bees.
A Bee Story is at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre from April 12 to 13, tickets through www.merrigong.com.au
A guide to What's On in the Easter School Holidayswill be published in Saturday's edition of the Illawarra Mercury and online.