We’ve all thought about running away to join the circus.
Everyone has had that dream of one day joining the circus, uprooting your whole life to hang out with the lions and tigers and bears (Oh my).
How did you envision it? Being an acrobat?
Your life on the road, filled with adrenaline, constantly fun. You’d be so flexible and you’d experience the closest thing to flying if you took up trapeze. You’d be best mates with an elephant and a monkey and you’d despise your ring master…
Here’s the best news: it’s actually better than you thought it would be.
Imagine African acrobats who keep you on the edge of your seat while they defy science, gravity and the human body – to a soundtrack of African musicians and singers with the energy of a bucket full of Duracell batteries.
Cirque Africa has just made its way down under and I saw it last week – it’s explosive and colourful and freakin’ amazing to watch. I wanted to know what it was like to be an acrobat in the circus so I spoke to some of the performers to find out.
Lidiya Dawed comes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and she initially became interested in joining the circus after watching circus videos and being fascinated by them.
“I am proud to be one of the best acrobats chosen from Ethiopia and love being with all the cast members from different countries,” she tells Mamamia.
The acrobats in the show come from six different countries in Africa – most from Tanzania but also from Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gambia and Zimbabwe. During the show the cast dress in over 200 one-of-a-kind African costumes and are joined by an eight piece band.
Dawed says she has three costumes changes throughout the show, but can’t choose a favourite.
“I like all of the costumes I wear in my acts,” she says.
The acrobats perform five nights per week, from Tuesday to Sunday. They don’t have an understudy, so it’s a gruelling timetable for the performers. When asked what happens if there is an illness or injury Dawed replies simply.
“Depending on how serious the injury is, l normally get a break from the show until l recover. But otherwise there is no breaks. l don’t have an understudy,” she says.
Another performer, Silethemba tells me about the worst accident she’s ever seen – it was when one of the male acrobats took a bad fall and was knocked out.
“I have witnessed one of our guys falling from a five metre high unicycle. He hit the stage floor so hard that he collapsed and was unconscious for almost a week. That has been the worst accident ever,” she says.
The Ethiopian acrobat – Dawen – has been training for the circus since she was 10 years old (it shows in her talent). She says her time on the road can vary, but this contract is a long one so she’s excited about it.