Circus kids go Zip Zap

first_img17 December 2002There’s not many people in the world who can juggle five balls. Six balls takes hours and hours and hours of practice. And seven? Well, you can count them on one hand. And when you do, make sure you count in 14-year-old Johan Moolman of the Zip Zap Circus.The Circus, made up of a group of energetic and enthusiastic kids ranging in age from 7 to 20 years, is packed with extraordinary talent in trapeze, acrobatics, juggling, unicycling and clowning.The kids, in their colourful costumes and ready smiles, work together as a well-honed team, displaying confidence, poise and skill that attests to hours of practice and training. And besides juggling seven balls, they juggle rings, clubs, balls, even burning clubs, and the smaller boys juggle sitting on a bigger boy’s shoulders, who is on a unicycle.They tour the country, usually during school holidays, giving free shows in shopping centres. Some kids have gone on overseas trips – at present there are four boys performing in Holland. The school has around 60 kids, half boys, half girls.Zip Zap teenagers take on African stick-fightingThe Circus is based in Cape Town, where it began in 1992, and is the only free circus school in the country. It takes children from all walks of life – some are street kids, others have no parents, several live in mansions, others live in shacks in townships. They don’t pay fees for their five hours of training a day they get, and they still go to school, in some cases paid for by Zip Zap to encourage the kids to finish their formal schooling.Free shows, no training fees . . . how do they do it? The Circus has one major sponsor in the form of Old Mutual Properties, and they perform free of charge in shopping centres belonging to the large corporate. But most of their funding they earn themselves, through corporate, stunt and film work. Two recent movies they were involved in are Home Alone 4 and Sinbad. Several years ago they did the stunt work for the Sanlam advert in which a trapeze artist walked across a tightrope strung between two buildings.David Koch, assistant trainer and tour manager, explains: “We do corporate acts just for entertainment, but we also create shows around what companies want, maybe to build trust, to represent safety or dignity.’The school was started 10 years ago by Brent van Rensburg and his wife Laurence Esteve. Van Rensburg has worked in circuses worldwide. He set up the Circus with the aim of teaching kids life skills through circus skills.It’s not hard to see that it’s working – the kids exude confidence and pride, trust in each other (especially when you’re dangling from someone’s wrists four metres above the ground) and just plain enjoyment, obvious in their happy smiles. Says Lizo James, 17: “This is my school, it is good for me and makes me excited.’ He admits it is hard work. “It is not easy, you have to train hard to be flexible.’The kids also learn practical skills. They make all their own props and costumes, and learn make-up application.It goes further. Several of their acts are very humorous – a clown act with three bakers who throw their dough around, tumble over and under their baking table, getting lots of laughs from the audience.Another act involves boys dressed up as animals, tiptoeing behind a hunter dressed in khaki. They jump over a vaulting horse in every imaginable way, creating a very amusing scene. Two talented boys come on with African drums, and elicit much laughter with their mimed actions, but produce some pretty cool drumming.Koch says most of the ideas for the humorous sketches are put together by the kids themselves.And don’t skimp on the applause. Says Ryno Keet, 17: “The best part is getting a good round of applause.’ For him it shows the audience appreciates all the hard work that goes into each act. It requires a lot of “dedication, commitment, perseverance, and a need to get better’.Zip Zap has links with the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian-based circus, which sends interns to the Cape Town school.Zip Zap also has an outreach programme. They take street kids for a three-week basic circus skills course and some reveal great talent, but it can be heartbreaking. “Some of these kids could be stars, but they inevitably go back to the street’, says Cock.Three boys from Zip Zap will be going to study at the UniverSoul Circus in the US in February.Future plans for the circus are to create a centre of the arts, with a hostel attached. “We get inquiries from around the world. We’d like to set up an alternative kind of school’, says Koch. This requires approval from the Department of Education, so it will take some time.Smiles, confidence, poise . . . isn’t this what every teenager needs? Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Celebrate Freedom Fridays with a ‘selfie’

first_img10 April 2014South Africans are encouraged to show their pride, wear their colours, take a “selfie” and upload it on social media using the hashtag #FreedomFridaySelfie and/or #20YOFSelfie as the country builds up towards its 20 Years of Freedom celebrations.See the latest “SAselfies” on Twitter: #FreedomFridaySelfie and #20YOFSelfieThe Department of Arts and Culture has reminded South Africans to mark this week’s Freedom Friday by wearing anything that makes them feel proudly South African.Leslie Sedibe, CEO of Proudly South African, said: “The Freedom Friday selfie initiative is an outstanding platform for proud South Africans to express their pride and love for our beautiful country and all who live in it.“Great strides have been made over the past 20 years, and it’s important for all of us to unite and collectively celebrate. We support the call for everyone to wear their SA colours with pride each Friday.”Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said: “We have reason to celebrate our achievements since 1994.“Our country still faces challenges, but together we can work towards a shared and prosperous future, with less than two weeks to go before Freedom Day, April 27, as part of the celebration, let us wear and show off our pride in being South African.”Freedom Fridays form part of the build-up programme towards the 20 anniversary celebrations of our freedom and democracy on 27 April. At the same time, it aims to promote and deepen social cohesion and nation building.Every Friday, people are encouraged to wear anything that expresses their national pride, including the flag, the jerseys of their favourite national sporting teams or anything that reflects their unity as a nation.The campaign is a partnership between the department, Brand South Africa, Lead SA, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and Proudly South African.Yusuf Abramjee of Lead SA called on the nation to support the initiative. “Freedom Fridays campaign is a powerful platform for us all. Together, we can make a difference.”The public can use a mix of social media sites to share their stories and thoughts on the last two decades of democracy:Twitter: @20_yofFacebook: 20YOFSource: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Record rainfall in Mount Abu

first_imgThe desert state of Rajasthan may want to permanently ban the cliché, ‘like the deserts miss the rain,’ as heavy downpour for the third consecutive day led to flood-like situations in Sirohi, Jalore and Pali districts.The State’s lone hill station, Mount Abu in Sirohi district, received an unprecedented 770 mm of rain in 24 hours. Statistics show that until 2010, the 100-year record for a single-day of rain in Mt Abu was 653 mm in 1992. The only comparable deluge after was a 453 mm downpour in 2015. According to A.K. Srivastava of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune, this was “possibly” the maximum rain ever received in the region.In comparison, the torrential rain that brought Mumbai to a standstill in 2005 was 944 mm and 644 mm on July 26 and 27, whereas Chennai was brought to its knees in 2015 with a cumulative November tally of 1,049 mm.A rise in extreme rainfall events, according to experts, is the consequence of a spike in temperatures across India in recent decades, and its effect on the monsoon. “Mt. Abu being hilly may not see a situation like Mumbai. But it is now well established that these rain records are a fall-out of global warming,” Mr. Srivastava said. Mount Abu is at an elevation of 4,000 ft above sea level.As incessant rains created chaos in the hill station, a large number of people were marooned, and the 28 km-long road that connects it to the Abu Road railway station was partially damaged.Tanveer Hussain, a medical officer at the government hospital in Mount Abu, told The Hindu that life was thrown out of gear as it had been raining incessantly for the past two days. “There were two incidents of landslide, but thankfully, the route to Abu Road is still somewhat functional despite partial damage,” he said. “All the markets, offices and schools in the town were closed.”(With inputs from Jacob Koshy)last_img read more