Circolombia bring Urban show to Edinburgh Festival
South American acrobats and anecdotes
This article is from 2011.
Their lives may have started in adversity, but when the performers of Circolombia step on stage at this year’s Fringe, it’s as fully fledged professionals. All the members of the troupe grew up on the streets of Cali in Colombia, facing a daily round of poverty and violence. That is until they won themselves a coveted place at the Circo Para Todos – a professional circus school for children from difficult backgrounds.
Under the tutelage of London-born Felicity Simpson, they grew into world-class performers, prompting her to set up a company to display their abilities, without trading on their past. ‘When Circolombia started, we really marketed their talents and never mentioned poverty,’ says Simpson. ‘Our clients didn’t know where they came from or their personal journeys, they just knew they were Colombian artists.’
New show Urban changes all that. As well as featuring jaw-dropping acrobatics, the show also gives voice to the hardships faced by these talented young performers. Not to win our sympathy – far from it – these artists have worked hard to reach such a high standard.
‘When the public goes to see a show, they buy a ticket and receive something,’ says Simpson. ‘It would be awful if anybody thought oh this comes from a social project and we’re paying a donation. The performers really struggle to get a place in the school, then face the daily sweat and physical changes their bodies go through during four years of hard training.’
Acts such as ‘The Perch’, in which a performer balances a hula hoop with a girl inside on his forehead, more than prove their skills. But what’s unique about Urban is the stories.
‘We’ve gone back to a time when the artists were irreplaceable,’ says Simpson. ‘In a lot of big productions, the performers are like marionettes. But here, if one artist was missing we’d have to change the show, because it’s about their personalities.’
Assembly Hall, 623 3030, 6-29 Aug (not 15), Noon, £14–£15 (£13–£14). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £10.