By Celeste Hawkins
Last week I had the good fortune to attend the opening night of Cirque Africa at the Burnley Oval, in Melbourne. Having not seen any other contemporary circus style performance for a while, I did expect to see a lot more trapeze style work. In fact the opposite was the case. There were of course a fabulous array of props- hoops and tubes of all various sizes and other balancing apparatus. However, it was the extraordinary way their bodies were used as props and trapezes as they hurled each other into the air using bare hands and feet and contorted their bodies into astounding positions. The performers were hanging off each other’s necks, lifting the entire body weight of partners with their hands, flinging each other into the air. I decided there and then these people must have bones of steel! Their stunning array of costumes reflected the diversity of the countries represented and the movements and music combined delivered a smooth and highly exciting narrative of African culture.
An energetic eight piece African band played in the background on stage, engaging and blending into the atmosphere beautifully. Papa Africa, the producer, director and ringleader made a regular appearance as a very cheeky clown. A few (very brave) audience members were chosen to be humiliated on stage and it was hilarious to watch! Overall it was a warm and highly entertaining night. The venue was perfect. The tent kept the chill out and there were facilities and food and a few souvenirs available to purchase. Cirque Africa will be touring around Australia for the next three years! So, I highly recommend this show for kids and adults for a great night out.