As a kid I loved going to the circus…I really enjoy theatre… so what were the chances that I would miss a show described as circus-style theatre. Called Afrika Afrika, it has been described as a “kingdom of the traveling entertainers and a paradise for the zest of life”.
There are no animals or clowns in this circus but there are fantastic scenes of mythical creatures and African beasts, evoked through costume. Ostriches bound across the stage and tortoises open out into giant flowers. Though there are a few acts similar to those seen in a traditional circus.
Unbelievable acrobatics, intoxicating rhythms and costumes of exceptional beauty...left me at a loss of words. Fortunately, though photography was prohibited, we were advised that we can download some pictures from their website…
He walked onto the stage like a spider…Feet turned into hands; hands became feet – a rare spectacle only possible within the African tradition of perfect, absolute body control. Huit Huit, the contortionist from Congo, was amazing as he slipped through a tennis racket.
Jean-Claude Belmat, a tissue aerialist with perfect synthesis of strength and body control. He seemed to just float in the air as he slowly spiraled his way up to the dome of the tent and then balanced his body in a horizontal position.
It is not without reason that she has earned the nickname of “snake girl”. She wraps her leg around her head, until her toes are resting under her chin. She then twists her body in a way that her head appears to be resting next to her body leaving one staring in disbelief.
The pole artistes make the audience catch their breath as they effortlessly and elegantly swing back and forth on the poles at top speed or slide up and down, head first while performing dangerous stunts.
Dancers build dizzyingly high human pyramids.
The so-called water man makes 8 bowls dance at the same time and spouts out water like a huge fountain, several meters high. He has the ability to hold five litres of water in his stomach!!! Using pressure, he is able to bring it up, spraying it like a rainstorm.
First six, then eight, then ten balls are simultaneously juggled by the juggler from Addis Ababa. The way he tosses the balls is hardly noticeable until they pick up such a speed that they appear to stand in the air. The human eye simply cannot follow what’s going on.
Lying on their backs, the female artistes swirl tables, vases and furniture around in circles at breakneck speed. Simultaneously and seemingly effortlessly, they juggle heavy furniture with their feet.
There was an 11-member group of basketball players, who darted around on unicycles, blowing whistles, moving to pulsating hip-hop beats. They play a surreal game of basketball on wheels, combining physical prowess and comedy.
While 2 players turn 2 ropes, one of the unicyclist skips in between those 2 ropes…Amazing…
From South Africa comes the loud, forceful rubber boot dancing. This dance originated from the horrific conditions within South Africa’s gold mines during apartheid. With no drainage, the miners were given rubber boots to wear, chained up and forbidden to speak. They developed a language of feet-stamping to communicate and these moves have now blossomed into a dance.
The finale sums up the joie de vivre that is Africa - the energy given off as all the dancers come together is unsurpassable.