CirkAfrika: The African circus explodes!

Is the continent discovering a new know-how that it will export beyond its borders ? Circus art « made in Africa » could be a huge success all over the world in the near future. Eva Polat and Rudy Casbi


“The African circus has a bright future ahead of it,” says Alain Pacherie. Even if it is less well known than the Beijing circus. China has been practicing it for over five thousand years. As it’s new on the continent, it takes a little patience to dethrone the Beijing circus, »says Alain Pacherie, director of the Phoenix circus who produced the third edition of CirkAfrika in Paris in the last two months. Building on this success, Alain Pacherie aims much higher: »The preparation of the 4th edition is already in progress. And I started conceptualizing the 5th edition, »he says. And he continues: »The strength of our show is the diversity of our artists. Some of them come from Togo, Côte d’ Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea, Morocco, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania. »

Thanks to this alchemy between these different African cultures, the show quickly found its audience. The African circus is carried more by artists who put forward their personality full of generosity rather than by the technical precision of the perilous jumps as is the case in Chinese schools. The artists of the continent radiate a real charisma, »details Alain Pachery.

CirkAfrika creates emulations…

After having invested nearly 5 million euros for this third edition, the CirkAfrika has gathered nearly 250,000 spectators on all the performances made for it, according to Pachery. Discovering a talent in them that they didn’t know existed, some now have great ambitions. Thus, it has been learned that the act proposed by two trapeze artists belonging to the troupe will be included in an upcoming show in Germany after the tour. Others could also take advantage of the worldwide fame of the Phoenix circus to develop circus art in their respective countries. There is a beginning of awareness in many countries. I heard that a circus school is under construction in Togo. In Tanzania, there are many artists. Perhaps we will be able to watch African circus on social networks or through applications because African artists are full of inventiveness in communicating with their audience. They have an active sharing culure », concludes Pachery. If it is still too early to bet on an export of CirkAfrika show in the world, it seems that Moroccan promotrs could have  shown an interest for this show in view of a possible representation in the Cherifian kingdom.

… And Africa believes in it

On the continent, several initiatives have been launched in recent years. In Ethiopia, the Fekat circus has brought a spirit of enchantment to Addis Ababa since its creation in 2004. Nearly 200,000 people were able to attend these shows in theatres, schools or refugee camps, according to the teams of the Fekat circus… It also states that these tents located in the Ethiopian capital would have changed the lives of these 47 artists. These have been professionally accomplished in the circus world. In West Africa, Guinea and Togo are also beginning to develop their know-how. In Togo, waders are called’ Ife’. The inhabitants traditionally dance on these waders, which raise them at popular dances in the Atakpamé region. Finally, the development of the circus could above all be a means of social emancipation throughout the continent. During their tour, according to the French promoter, each CirkAfrika artist receives, nearly 2,500 euros gross per month, in accordance with the national circus convention in vigour in France.

 Eva Polat and Rudy Casbi

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