lifestyle

This is what it's really like to run away and join the circus.

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…

Hanging on a pole with your feet perhaps…

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.

The circus has always been a dream for her.

“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 flexibility is incredible too.

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.

It’s a long way to fall.

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.

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Silethemba says, “Usually our year is busy with only 2-3 months breaks, otherwise we’re on the road for over six months every year.”

To prepare physically for each show Dawed warms up for 20 minutes beforehand and she prepares mentally through prayer.

“I practice my act to try and perfect it, that’s how I keep up. I usually train about five times a week. Prayer and lots of practice is what keeps me going,” she says.

While on the road the performer says that the crew live like a family. She says, “It’s like having many brothers and sisters around me. I love them all.”

They’re like a family.

Silethemba says that coming from six different African countries means they all have unique cultures and backgrounds.

“Cirque Africa is my second home away from home. l love being with the cast so much that when we get our breaks to go home, l miss everyone even it is just for a few days,” she says.

When they’re on the road, and not performing Silethemba says it’s about experiencing other culture, food and languages. Both Dawed and Silethemba are excited to be showing off their talent in Australia.

What’s your favourite thing about the circus? 

And in sporting news this week…

Last Friday, Felicity Palmateer made history when she surfed the biggest wave ever by a female Australian surfer. It was in Western Australia. She was towed in to a Cow Bombie wave and caught the giant face of water. She caught three waves while she was out there. She said it was so steep and while the adrenaline stayed with her for 24 hours, she was happy to be back on dry land.

The Australian women’s hockey team, the Hockeyroos have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. They reached the semi finals of the World Hockey League in Belgium this week. The Hockeyroos beat Ireland in a messy game, winning 4 -1 on Thursday. They were up against the world number one, the Netherlands on Friday and got beaten 5 – 1 by their rivals. They will now play New Zealand to battle it out for the Bronze.

After 20 years as Australia’s number one female golfer, Karrie Webb has been dethroned. Her spot has been taken by a teenager that she has been mentoring – Minjee Lee. The 40-year-old was over taken by the 19-year-old from Perth on Wednesday night. The official world rankings were released in America this week and Lee was ranked number 16 (in the world) – two spots above Webb and Australia’s number one. She’s only 19, so we’re sure she’ll be moving up those ranks in the future. Good luck to her and congratulations.

What sport have you been playing or watching this week?