City troupe heads north to spread cir­cus cul­ture

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - AN­TOINETTE ISAMA

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.

an­toinette.isama@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: JA­SON BOUD

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.

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