City troupe heads north to spread circus culture
ETHIOPIA is set to host the continent’s first African Circus Arts Festival this weekend, and the ActionArte Foundation will represent South Africa in three days of performances to show the potential of establishing a circus arts culture in Africa.
The Cape Town non-profit will be the youngest troupe in attendance, since it established its registered NGO status two years ago.
“It will be an interesting experience,” Hanne la Cour, executive director, said. “We will use our time to build bridges, exchange ideas, and look into how we can support each other.”
ActionArte incorporates visual art throughout their acts, to tell the story of where they come from, and the challenges they face.
“We use videos inbetween our acts to inform our audience, and for them to get a bigger picture,” she added.
What links the total of eight circus teams from seven African countries goes beyond entertainment, however. Each make it a point to use circus arts as a tool for social change for at-risk youth.
Marlin Roos, founder and executive director of ActionArte, notes that the group who will perform in Ethiopia understand the youth they work with, because they came from the same circumstances. “I’ve seen people make the wrong decisions.
“We’ve noticed that the youth who participate in our workshops don’t end up in gangs, and make better choices.”
Before ActionArte, the second- generation circus artist took into his own hands his aim of creating a safe space for Hanover Park youth to train, in the community centre.
The troupe now rents a space in Epping for rehearsals, and taxis their students there and back.
With ActionArte’s core values of social development, both Roos and La Cour want the youth to continue to be inspired to think creatively.
“We instill in our youth that they have their bodies they can create with, instead of resorting to violence,” Roos said.
Nine youngsters from ActionArte recently returned from touring for one month in Denmark and Spain.
ActionArte aims to add on tutoring services, along with costume design and staging workshops.
“We want to show that circus arts goes hand- in- hand with life skills,” La Cour said.
TOURISTS: The Action Arte Foundation in Epping Industria, is taking young artistes from Hanover Park to the African Circus Arts Festival in Ethiopia. From left: Francois Roos, Hanne La Cour, Shameer Johnson, Khadeejah Abels, centre and Arashaad Goliath, on the mat.