This year I celebrated my birthday at the opening of the Circusstad Festival here in Rotterdam. Obviously, the week-long event was designed with me in mind as it started on May 2 and continued until the following Sunday. A perfect week-long birthday celebration!
The opening night got off to a splendid and noisy start with brass band and percussion from Circa Tsuïca, and balancing and juggling acts from aspiring Dutch circus talent leading the audience inside the venue at Rotterdamse Schouwburg.
The star attraction was a piece called Urban by Circolombia from Cali, Colombia. There was a strong whiff of danger about the graceful and acrobatic show. Incredible discipline and athleticism mixed with hiphop and Latin reggae. Many of the performers come from very disadvantaged backgrounds and their experience of living on the streets, gangs and danger were worked into the performance. There was a great deal of posturing of young men, there was a confrontation between “gangs” that ended with everyone shaking hands. A short, sharp interval involving a gun and a shooting ends with the gunman trying to rob a member of the audience, but finding the young man has no “denaro,” he hands him a shiny coin… The show is not short on humour.
Among the amazing feats using teeterboards, tightropes, jumping ropes, hoops, there was a poetic interval of one young man balancing a giant wheel on his forehead and the only girl on stage climbing up to do carefully choreographed and balanced acrobatics inside the wheel. The video below is posted on YouTube to promote the show at the Roundhouse in London where it played in April last year. At the very end of the video, there’s a glimpse of the showstopper that ended the performance. A young man catapulted through the air to end up seated on a chair in midair!
Circolombia got to where they are through discipline and incredibly hard work. In this 3-minute video interview on The Guardian website, the co-founder of the Circo Para Todos circus school in Colombia talks about the challenges.
P.S. There was free prosecco after the show. This is what I call a birthday celebration!