You can read more about the school here: Click
And about Circolombia here: Click
Also a brilliant documentary on the school and it's social context (Spanish no subtitles): Click
Finally a music video I shot with part of the troupe in Rio de Janeiro in June this year: Click
The great thing about circus is that everyone is in it together, less comparmentalised than traditional theatre and much more risk. Though I have included circus in my performance work before I am now incorporating performance into circus work and finding it totally gratifying. How did it take me this long to get into this artform?
Very happy to also be completing a residency here in Cali, Colombia at the circus school Circo Para Todos. I am giving an intensive laboratory in creative collaborative performance making for the final year students. The students basically have by this point completed 4 years of training where they have completed a routine that they then sell to the various businesses around the world, either touring shows, cruises or theme parks. The perks are travel and pay, a real draw for many of the inner-city youth who compose the student body.
I have found the energy and vibrancy of the participants intense and brilliant. Very open to the process and able to conceptualise form and play in an open-minded and exciting way. In a matter of days we put together 6 skits based on dreams that we performed for a small audience. Now my task is to think about the bigger picture of their final degree show in December and offer a method towards which to create a meta-narrative that will link all their individual numbers as well as transition skits to keep the flow of the show.
Apparently Cali is the 11th most dangerous city in the world according to a report by Seguridad, Justicia y Paz. Of course this is subjective, as I wandered the streets going from bars to clubs and meeting people throughout the evening without ever feeling threatened. But of course Colombia is synonomous with the drug trade, and well after all it is a major producer marijuana, cocaine and heroine. Regardless there is the Latin American warmth that is contagious and undeniable. No exchange begins without a ping-pong of salutations and greetings, which are actually genuine not just an ice-breaker. And like Brasil, its teeming with a mix of races that form a real unique mix.
The combination of vibrant energy, motivated students, engaged staff and a circus ethos make for a formidable experience. There is a magic at the school and in the city that demonstrates a cultural power here in Colombia that from afar gets clouded by negative media attention and assumptions. But as I've recently learned it is after all here in Colombia that the famed El Dorado existed, city of gold that the original conquistadors sought with such bloody consequences. And so apt that this vast and lush country, bordering the Pacific and the Gulf should hide its treasures until you come seek them out...
As Choc Quib Town says closing their song: 'Ahora dígame que cree usted porque Colombia es más que coca, marijuana y café'