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Tribune (november 94)
Tribune (september 95)
- Canada (june 97)
Air lines (june97)
«A place to feel free»
For the circus built on a hill, surrounded by trees and fenced on its front
side, it's the early morning sun that first reveals that something special
is happening there. Inside, the Circus Ethiopia Training - Center, the
compound's center is linked by adjacent rooms layed out like boxes. In
the big room, as it is called by the youngsters who train there, four steel
pillars braced from the ceiling to the floor dominate the room's center.
(By Haimanot Getchun)
it is from these rigid columns that the boys and girls begin their warm-up
routines, swinging and twirling from the gymnastic rings, each time more
rapidly and with greater skill, ending the sessions by jumping off, softly
on both feet, without losing their balance. All around them equipment needed
for other routines wait stacked neatly along the entire perimeter of the
room. On the left side of the room is the small stage used for juggling
routines. On the right, the trampoline and uni-cycle wait for the young
atheletes, who take turns mounting it.
The room is crowded , filled with good postured boys and girls, most
of them dressed in shorts and tights, ready to perform. One boy jumps as
high as he can. A girl on the floor spreads her legs as wide as possible,
searching for her best stretch. Rythmic dancing routines dominate the attention
of other youngsters, none of whom depend on mirrors to measure the grace
or impact of their movements. Located at Lamberet Quarter, just on the
opposite side of the Mobil station, Circus Ethiopia was founded by a Canadian
teacher, three years ago.
always met children in the street asking for money. But I was not interested
in giving money to them" said Marc La Chance, who works by day at the International
Community School. Rather, 1 thought, why not organize them into a constructive
project. "Circus Ethiopia, begun with ten Felasha children trying to juggle
3 balls» has grown to 40 children with expanded rou tines. Today
they juggle fire not just balls, and the older children balance smaller
ones on top of long poles. They pride themselves in doing most anything
expected of a professional troupe, from tight rope walking to sophisticated
"In our country no attempt is made to entertain children. Circus Ethiopia
entertains them and lets them know what a circus is" said the head trainer,
"Besides, it makes our performers think about being organized. It makes
them think about the importance of doing something worth while for themselves
and for Ethiopia" Yared said.
The circus gives the performers individual skill in gymnastics and
as an added benefit it introduces circus acts to the country, with no tradition
is thés entertainment form. Many Ethiopians think that a circus
is something that can only happen abroad. "So it was unbelievable, for
many people, to see Ethiopian kids juggling, passing fire, and doing knife
routines" Yared said.
For children like Enguday Bekele, 14, originally from Jimma, gymnastics
has become more than just a way to stay slim. "It makes me feel free and
happy". Getting to the circus is not an obstacle no matterhow far it is
from home. The star performer of the circus, Abiy Hailemariam, 17, travers
everyday from Asko Medhanealem. "I can do it," he said, "the travel and
the most difficult routines."
"Circus Spectacular for Red Cross 60 th"
Circus Ethiopia gave a perfomance in celebration of the 60th anniversary
of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS). The show, held at the National
Theatre, was called "Shoe Shiner" - a story about street children and their
struggle to survive on the streets of Addis Ababa.
(By Our Staff reporter)
evening began with presentations to members of ERCS. Then followed short
speeches by the Dep. Head and Head of ICRC and the First Secretary of the
Swedish Embassy which sponsored the event.
The founder and director of Circus Ethiopia, Mr. Marc Lachance, gave
a more detailed perspective to the purpose of the group. He recailed that
in 1991 , while cycling to and from his job as a teacher, he encountered
street kids and beggars close up, ("you can't roll your window up on a
bicycle"). He decided not to give a salary for begging but to do something
more permanent. So, with a car stereo and 700 juggling, tightrope-walking
and acrobatic children, Circus Ethiopia was born.
The performance, "Shoe Shiner", is really about all the aspects
of being on the street. Hunger, cold, loneliness, violence, rape
and death were all confronted by Abate Mekuria, playwright, music and direction.
The evening swang from dazzling displays of acrobatics and other circus
acts to poignant dance pieces which portrayed the harsh reality of the
theme of the play. The "Shoe Shiner" is the result of 3 months work and
this group have performed over 200 times in the last four years including
a tour in HoIland where they were shown on television to an audience of
over one million people. They are now embarking on a 35-date tour all round
The circus worked in collaboration with "Theatre in Development," a
project which endeavors to nurture artistic expression and self-esteem
among disadvantaged children. This, coupled with the Red Cross' continuing
commitment to "meet the needs of the most vulnerable," made this a truly
Equinox - Canada
"The World is a circus.
the end of a rough road up a hill on the edge of Addis Ababa, surrounded
by a fence made of corrugated-métal sheets, are the administrative
offices of Circus in Ethiopia, recently relocated from La Chance's house.
I let myself in through the sheet-meta1 gate by slipping a looped string
off a nail. Behind a small grass hut is a one-room cookhoust with a long
washing stand and water taps in front. I meet Sister, a friendly middle
aged woman who is in charge of the kitchen, supplies and buying food for
hundreds of meals each week. She is also the one the children go to with
any minor medical problems. Next to the cookhouse is a small four-room
office made of straw, mud, and concrete and barely covered with faded yellow
paint. It is afternoon, and more than a dozen children are inside in the
largest roam, sitting at three tables and doing homework, guided by tutor
hired by the circus. In the next room are boxes, suitcases, and racks of
costumes. In two other smaller rooms, people are busy typing information
into three computers. One of the typists is Socina Tewabe, I8, a
three-year veteran of thc circus. She has fiery eyes and feline features.
"The circus is my dream come true," - she says. "It's my life and family.
If I do not continue as a professional circus artist, then I would
like to be a trainer or help with the circus in soma other - way." All
members of the main troupe are unpaid, but they are fed at the compound
and receive money (less than one pound) to cover their transportation cost
to mandatory training sessions every afternoon, including Sundays, when
regular free performances are held. Students of the circus school pay 1,5
pound a month tuition. Outside the gate and farther up the hill, next to
an open field with grazing cows and goats, is a gymnasium-sized training
hall that the circus rents.
A flash of Canadian intuition gives birth to a
big top that makes Ethiopia's children walk tall"
(Article by Robert Semeniuk)
the building I can pick up the sliding quarter notes of Ethiopian music
and loud African percussion. Inside at one end is the bandstand stacked
with speakers, cords, and sound equipment. The band has a musical director,
keyboard player, drummer, four singers, and four musicians who play traditional
Ethiopian stringed instrument, including a misinko, which has a single
string and is played with a bow. A young musician shows me his makeshift
imtrument, made from a tin can that he played on the street before coming
to the circus. On one wall hang half e dozen unicycles; nearby are boxes
of ropes, juggling pins and balls, and other circus gear. On another are
pinned scores of photographs, newspaper clippings, and magazine stories
recounting Circus in Ethiopia's success To speak of Ethiopia and success
in one breath may seem odd to westerners, but the fact is that I can see
only hope and pride in in the eyes of the young circus performers.
Selamta / Ethiopian Air lines
Traditional circus still finds fertile ground in Ethiopia, launching a
new generation on a creative adventure that combines education entertainment
and acrobatics .David Beatty reports on a unique project that has brought
hope to many of Ethiopia's children. Before 1990 there was no such thing
as circus in Ethiopia, and few people could even begin to understand what
was meant by the word.
Marc La Chance, the Director General and Founder of Circus in Ethiopia,
arrived in Addis Ababa from Canada in 1990 to teach at the International
Community School, he had no idea that he was about to initiate a unique
cultural event. Yet seven years later he finds himself heading a non-profit
organization that has spread its roots throughout the length and breadth
of Ethiopia. It has inspired hundreds of children in an explosion of creativity
that has surpassed his wildest dreams.
By teaching a few children to juggle stones in his neighbourhood, Marc
sowed the seeds of an idea of the circus. The concept has spread with suche
nthusiasm that there are now six circuses from different parts of the country,
each with its own unique identity. From small beginnings the idea of a
circus has evolved into a pyramid of activity. The circus has tapped sources
of creativity and developed skills in Ethiopia's children. For these children
self-expression is a new concept, and a luxury in a country recovering
from years of war and famine.
In other words the circus in Ethiopia is a small African marvel that
has become a big topic of discussion. In the con text of Ethiopia, the
circus has come to mean far more than its European counterpart - which
is a traditional side-show of animal trainers, clowns and high-wire acts.
In Ethiopia it is an event whose implications are fareaching.