Mahla Bird is a performance artist, scientist, aerialist, author, queer body-positive fitness instructor, and haver of a lot of feelings. They like making work that allows these roles to inform each other, like bringing queer dance parties to the gym, using trapeze to tell tender stories, and giving neuroscience talks at punk gigs.
Never one to do things by halves, Mahla first made their way from science to performance via FOUND Festival (2015), where they undertook ideation, development, programming and production of The Church space, then headlining this venue.
Since then, Mahla has burst onto cabaret and queer art stages from their home in Melbourne (Including The Arts Centre, The Melba Spiegeltent, Honcho Disko, Midsumma Carnival, Kong’s Kings, Dr Sketchy’s), across Australia (Adelaide Fringe Festival, Sydney Mardi Gras) to NYC (Coney Island, House of Yes), enthralling audiences with their signature blend of physical skill, engaging stage presence, and tenderhearted chutzpah.
As a performance artist, Mahla Bird is an aesthetic agitator — a Themme Fatale — using their skilled physical performance to explore themes of gender, power, vulnerability, autonomy, and hope. Their work is a celebration of queer survival, and casts a spell for a brighter, more liberated future.
Along with co-creators BamBam and Cat Scurvy, Mahla was awarded the Still I Rise artist development program via the Women’s Circus in 2016, in order to develop KillJoy, a live-scored feminist cabaret nominated for Best Circus in its first season. KillJoy has enjoyed standing ovations and glowing reviews in its seasons at Melbourne Fringe, Midsumma, and Adelaide Fringe Festival, being described as “sexy, funny, awe-inspiring, moving and just damned brilliant” (The Upside News).
In addition to performance work, Mahla still engages with her background in neuroscience, unshackling it from university institutions to bring her findings to places unexpected. Mahla’s Punk Science presentations make science accessible, engaging audiences in the neurological processes behind art, music, meditation, and sex - all the while live-streaming the EEG output of her own mind!. Mahla has presented Punk Science at Art Salons, Punk Gigs, Warehouses, and Carnivals across Melbourne, Sydney, and New York since 2015.
FLEX! Fitness - Presented by QueerJoy
As a physical performer Mahla spends a lot of time moving, so has an intimate understanding of the relationship between physical movement and mental health and wellbeing. However, many gyms' narrow focus on aesthetics and weight loss turn movement into a punishing experience rather than a inclusive, joyful one.
Mahla combines their years of experience in various physical practices (yoga, circus, injury prevention, pilates, dance, and a whole lot of anatomy/physiology training), and desire for a fitness space that's more supportive of all bodies - and particularly queer bodies - to build a group where we can access the benefits of regular guided movement practice, and skip on the sh*tty bits.