18 February 2024

Afrique en Cirque: A glimpse into life in Guinea through circus

| Emma Batchelor
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Afrique en Cirque performer

Afrique en Cirque brings an immersive celebration of African art and culture to Canberra on 1-2 March. Photo: Canberra Theatre Centre.

Afrique en Cirque is a vibrant celebration of Guinean culture featuring live music, awe-inspiring acrobatics and explosive dance.

The brainchild of a multidisciplinary performer, Yamoussa Bangoura, Afrique en Cirque offers an immersive celebration of African art and culture.

Afrique en Cirque is inspired by daily life in Guinea,” Bangoura explains from New York, where the company has just performed.

“Everything is happening in the fish market. People are fixing their boats, making nets, getting ready to go fish, selling their stuff. And other things are happening too, like street shows, music and circus.”

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Bangoura, who is also the artistic director of Kalabanté Productions, the company producing Afrique en Cirque, first became interested in circus as a young person in Guinea.

“My friend and I would watch European circus on TV and we began imitating the acrobats down on the beach,” he explains.

Here, he was approached by Laurent Chevallier, the founder of Circus Baobab, a collective of circus artists from Guinea and the diaspora, who sought to offer training and performance opportunities for young artists.

acrobats on stage for Afrique en Cirque

Daring acrobats are set to wow crowds. Photo: Canberra Theatre Centre.

“We began touring with them and learning from the other acrobats. They taught us how to juggle and how to do everything safely.

“After that I was representing Guinea in Barcelona where I auditioned for a company from Montreal. They accepted me and this was the beginning of my career as a professional circus artist.”

While travelling the world as a performer, Bangoura nursed the idea of founding his own circus company.

“I founded Kalabanté Productions in 2007 and was running it by myself at first. I wanted to create opportunities for others. It was difficult to support myself so I went back to work for some years before coming back – it was still something I knew I had to do. And then five years ago, I put everything aside to focus on Kalabanté.”

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Today the company focuses on uplifting multidisciplinary African arts: circus, African dance and music traditional to West Africa. As well as his role as artistic director, Bangoura still performs as an acrobat and musician.

“I play the kora which is an African harp. It is 800 to 1000 years old and helps West Africans to tell their stories. I learned from a master back when I lived in Guinea.”

Bangoura is also fortunate to now work with many other artists, including members of his family who are also part of Afrique en Cirque.

Afrique en Cirque will be at the Canberra Theatre Centre on 1-2 March 2024. Book now


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