Great Moscow Circus performers visit Morisset High School | photos | video

THE Great Moscow Circus is full of surprises – and not all of them are on stage.

It turns out the longtime creative director of the world-travelled circus is a Lake Macquarie native with a passion for Morisset High School’s way of doing things.

“This is an extraordinary school for encouraging creativity and innovation,” Mike Riddell told the Lakes Mail.

So it was no coincidence Mr Riddell led a delegation of the circus’s young stars to the school today for a lesson on dreaming big.

“When you look at a circus, its people have dreams,” he said.

“So what we’re doing today is encouraging, empowering and inspiring the kids. Anything you can dream, you can do: that’s what the circus is about, and that’s what this school is enabling and facilitating to happen.”

Mr Riddell was also encouraging the school to pursue its dream of gaining access to some of the disused buildings in Morisset Hospital.

“The high school is looking at how they could save, in a way, Morisset Hospital which has got 100 heritage buildings that are being allowed to rot at the moment,” he said.

Mr Riddell revealed he had been a regular visitor to the hospital where he had worked with staff and residents for four years.

“Last Friday we took some of the Great Moscow Circus performers there to perform for the residents. It’s an extraordinary place.”

He said the patients and residents there deserved the community’s continued and ongoing care and support.

But he said some of the disused buildings could help the high school, and the region, to achieve great things.

“It could be made viable with creativity and innovation,” he said. “It could be a Dreamtime innovation incubator.”

Morisset High School’s deputy principal Keith Leyshon said the school was interested in exploring a partnership with Biraban Aboriginal Land Council that might see some of the hospital buildings given new creative purpose.

Among the potential uses of the hospital buildings were a film studio, an academy for students in the school’s Big Picture program, an Aboriginal resource centre, and performing arts spaces.

Yet that wasn’t the end of today’s surprising revelations.

Joining Mr Riddell in the presentation at the school was Bronwyn White, an international dancer, choreographer and producer, and another former Lake Macquarie resident.

At age 19, Ms White - who had been a classical ballet dancer – accepted an invitation to join the Russian Cossack State Dance Company, became one of its stars, and toured the world.

“Bron is one of Lake Macquarie’s living treasures,” Mr Riddell said.

The Great Moscow Circus is currently performing under the Big Top at Morisset Showground. It’s on tonight (Thursday) at 7.30. The final performance is this Sunday at 11am. Book at thegreatmoscowcircus.com.au