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1998 World Tour Press The Advertiser (3 March, 1998) Adelaide, Australia
Sunday Mail (8 March, 1998) Adelaide, Australia
ABC (9 March, 1998) Adelaide, Australia (l'article n'est plus disponible sur le site du journal)
RealTime@ Telstra Adelaide Festival
The Sunday Morning Herald (28 March, 1998)
Ouest France (Brest, le 24 avril 1998), France
Le télégramme (les 25 et 27/04/98), France
The Independent (25 May, 1998), United Kingdom
The Irish Times (26 Sept, 1998), Dublin, Ireland
Wow, Watch this! (5 May, 1998), UK

Sunday Mail
(8 March, 1998) Adelaide, Australia

Young Talent Shines

Circus Ethiopia is a bit like watching an African version of Young Talent Time - thankfully without Johnny Young. This young talented troupe of 19 wholesome boys and girls with cheesy smiles and bright costumes light up the stage in a dazzling 90 minute performance.
The show starts with the kids dancing and playing jump rope. a scene you might find on any suburban street. Except any ordinary kids don't do somersaults and juggle while jumping on a rope that's been set on fire. Throughout the show they contort their bodies into amazing positions to form intricate impossible looking pyramids.
Circus Ethiopia was formed in 1991 as a community project in a country where the children are usually  associated with famine and malnutrition. The troupe of acrobats and 6 musicians is now chosen from hundreds of hopefuls who eagerly want to perform for the world.
The show is uniquely Ethiopian - traditional dress and music. But it has broad appeal: good old fashioned entertainment. The baby of the troupe is a young boy who is a bit like the "star" of the Christmas tree as he claws his way to the top of human pyramids. He is also the show's resident clown, who delights in using unsuspecting audience members to spice up the act.
Circus Ethiopia is a shining light in the festival for all ages. It will take a few days for the smile to wear off your face.
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The Advertiser
(3 March, 1998) Adelaide, Australia

Her Majesty's Theater: Circus Ethiopia
Rating: Family (5 etoiles)


That is what it's all about. Entertainment for the masses doesn't get much better than this wonderful Ethiopian troupe. Breaking through cultural boundaries and dissolving social stereotypes, this troupe is a celebration of life which embraces all ways of life.

This troupe was developed from nothing but has flourished into a tight team which exudes a sheer love of performing. And can they perform! Human pyramids are their specialty - each one more exciting and gravity-defying than the last. And while they twist themselves around about and inside out never does it err on the side of a "freak show" as many human circuses can.

There are many lovely narratives running through the performance and the youngest gentlemen of the troupe keeps the audience on its feet with his wicked antics. There is an abundance of humor throughout  - from the man who undresses himself on a tightrope to the jugglers having enormous fun trying to outdo each other.

Upside down, in the dark, using both hands and feet while bent backwards, they can juggle any which way. They pull members of the audience on the stage and before they know it they are part of a pyramid themselves. And don't the kids just love watching their parents make fools of themselves.

This is a finely crafted  show. The stunts are well executed and there is a good pace through it. The music is also vibrant and thoroughly entertaining.

The group knows that our idea of Ethiopia have been shaped by images of war and starvation. Upon watching this troupe these images start to fade. They don't want us to feel sorry for them, They want us to feel exhilarated by them. Its not hard.

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An other Ethiopia

Sophie and Peter Bishop
 Circus Ethiopia
Her Majesty's Theatre, February 28

"Will there be any animals?" asked Sophie, my seven-year-old daughter, as we sat watching the large ensemble of young people dancing on stage to electric sounds of Ethiopian rock. "Er, no, I don't think so." "Why are they all African?" "That's where they come from." 

Sophie liked all the other kids in the audience and was particularly impressed with the equal split between girls and boys in the circus. She was less impressed with the large man who sat in front of her just before the show began. 

Was it a rock concert with dance, acrobatics and juggling--or the other way around? It was certainly skillful but definitely not slick. More of a street sense about it. A few rough edges, mistakes, things dropped, a fall, a trip, but easily retrieved through a smile and enthusiasm. These all added to the feeling of participation by the audience, although when "volunteers" were co-opted, Sophie and I clung to each other to avoid being snatched.

"Are the kids forced to do it?" asked Sophie, wriggling and slumping in a theatre seat not designed for kids. I was worried. Media stereotypes of underprivileged and oppressed Africans passed through my mind. Just what had she been watching on TV? Perhaps school was to blame? "Why do you ask?" "They are all working so hard!", was her casual reply as she eyed the youngest members who seemed around her age. "I think they enjoy it. Wouldn't you like to do it?" Sophie was unsure about that level of discipline. Fair enough. "I expect they don't go to school. They wouldn't have time." "I think they do some of it at school."

My five-year-old son was waiting outside and grabbed us as we appeared after the show. "Did anyone dress up as animals?" "No! Of course not," said Sophie impatiently. "But it was really good. Really fantastic."


Articles list

Articles list

  • Circus Ethiopia : le coeur en piste (27/04/98, Brest) 
  • Circus Ethiopia : la jeunesse mise en scène (25/04/98, Morlaix)
  • Circus Ethiopia : une bouffée d'air chaud (27/04/98, Morlaix)
  • Circus Ethiopia : le sourire triomphe (27/04/98, Brest)
    (les articles ne sont plus disponibles sur le site du journal)
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The Independent
(25 May, 1998) United Kingdom

Circus Ethiopia at the Brighton Festival
"An African street party underneath the big top"
Kate Mikhail

To someone to whom a gentle forward somersault would be a dangerous undertaking the sight of supple bodies bending double and effortlessly flying through the air was a humbling experience. But in spite of that Circus Ethiopia, currently on show as part of the Brighton Festival is fun and uplifting. The thirty strong troupe dances constantly. Hips wiggle and shoulders shuffle with a relaxed carnival energy - until the back flips begin. Suddenly the stage is filled with no- hands cartwheels, a stream of backward flips and double somersaults casually tucked in mid-flight. The performers, aged between eight and eighteen, are clearly enjoying themselves. The beaming smiles seem genuine and the on stage laughter and informal interaction between them give the impression that the audience has just stumbled across a spontaneous street party.
The colour the show is spectacular, thanks to the rich wardrobe of traditional costumes and the choreography, which uses the colour to create endless kaleidoscopic patterns. Human pyramids make up a large part of the show; columns of bodies come together, with the smallest team members thrown on top almost as an afterthought. In one , the intertwining bodies become disconcertingly disjointed. Acrobat number one lay down on the ground, chin resting behind folded hands , then bent her waist backwards to bring her legs over her head with feet resting on the ground either side of her head. Acrobat number two did the same, but used her accomplice to balance on instead of the floor. And so the pyramid grew with heads growing out of legs to produce what resembled a human centipede.
Circus Ethiopia was set up in 1991 by French Canadian Marc La Chance as an attempt to give street children a sense of purpose and a means of earning a living. Since then it has become a national movement heavily involved with the Red Cross and used not only to entertain but also to educate the public. "circus is not just entertainment," explains La Chance, "but a tool for survival."
This might not be the most skilled jugglers and acrobats you've ever seen, but the energy and humour that pours off the stage more thn makes up for it. The flashing smiles were so infectious and the feel good factor so great that even the presence of all those enviably flat stomachs and frighteningly toned limbs were not enough to wipe the smile off my face.
Articles list

The Irish Times 
(September 26, 1998, Dublin Ireland)

Circus Ethiopia, Gaiety Theatre

                  Review by David Nowlan 

                  The 1998 Dublin Theatre Festival opened last night with a power-house performance by a 
                  driving band of voices, strings, wind instruments and tympani stretched across a ramp 
                  upstage and, on a thick green mat downstage, a group of 16 youthful dancers, tumblers, 
                  jugglers and acrobats of beguiling charm. Lithe and lissome at times to the point of 
                  contortion, they pound through their 11/2-hour programme with sustained energy and great 
                  good humour. 

                  The most elaborately sophisticated piece of equipment on stage is a mono-cycle. The rest of 
                  the props are utterly simple: some shields and spears here and there, a plethora of balls, 
                  bats, straw hats, fiery batons and colourful costumes. It's not that they demonstrate any 
                  very novel circus acrobatics or tricks: it's that they do everything in a novel and highly 
                  collaborative manner, whether juggling items, building pyramids of beautiful bodies or 
                  tumbling all over the stage. It is in the minds and bodies that the success lies, in the 
                  dancing which clearly has its origin in Ethiopian art yet can sometimes conjure the sort of 
                  ensemble performance that might well have come from a Busby Berkely movie, and in the 
                  easygoing light humour touching everything they do. 

                  When a particular trick doesn't quite come off, they shrug, smile and sometimes do it again 
                  and sometimes just carry on to the next. What looks, near the end, to be starting as a war 
                  dance between the men is quickly converted by the women into a celebration of peace. And, 
                  while the energy never explodes, neither does it ever flag. Alas, they are with us for only 
                  three days - a very brief tonic. 


(in reference to The Lowdown TV documentary on Circus Ethiopia  aired May 5, 1998 on BBC1)
Tony Morrissey (posted  on Usenet May 5, 1998)

I saw Circus Ethiopia last summer (97) at WOMAD, Reading. It was one of the most compulsive, exciting and inspiring things I've seen. It's hard to say why, but knowing that these kids put together a highly professional show in a tiny African circus village and resurrected their whole lives' possibilities was part of it. At the end practically the whole audience was shedding tears of joy - I'm not kidding, it was extraordinary. 

The kids range from tiny to late teens, and present a unique combination of western skills with home made props, plus a large amount of very high level acrobatics. I was prepared to be generous and watch a deprived group of kids do some half-baked skills cobbled together into a slightly embarrassing show. Far from it - the skills range from good to incredible, and the show is uniquely African, with lots of narrative scenes, dancing, music, adventure, and audience participation. And they smile! They grin the whole time with such joy, generosity, ebullience - you can't help love them. 

And a funny thing happened. I was sitting with at least 5000 other people watching the outdoor show, some way back. Suddenly 3 Ethiopian kids swarmed down off the stage and into the audience. Aha, volunteer-fetching! I thought, and carefully looked away. A teenager picked his way all through the crowd, and I knew he was looking at me, and his hand came down on my shoulder. I was very determinedly taken onstage. I was requested (in mime of course, speaking no Ethiopian) to follow a few actions in a fun scene which was set up to play tricks on me and the other 2 volunteers.
Then we were positioned carefully in a simple acrobalance at the front, while a couple of their acrobats did incredible dives through/over bits of us.

So did this guy who picked me know that out of all those thousands I was an acrobat used to basing such balances? 

Anyway, watch the programme for some inspiration, and see the live show if you possibly can. 

Tim Sheppard                    tim@lilliput-p.win-uk.net
Lilliput Press   -   Publisher of fine books in miniature
England                         http://www.lilliput.co.uk