- Title: Arts school trains South African children for the circus.
- Date: 4th August 2017
- Summary: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR ZIP ZAP CIRCUS SCHOOL PERFORMERS ON STAGE VARIOUS OF JUGGLERS PERFORMER ON CYCLE
- Embargoed: 18th August 2017 13:35
- Keywords: Circus acrobatics gymnastics circus school performance
- Location: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
- City: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA0016SQR51Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Zip Zap circus school in South Africa's seaside city, Cape Town is a popular hang out for young people who want to learn something new and unexpected.
Here, children aged seven and above learn juggling, acrobatics and various airborne stunts.
Started in 1992 in Langa Township, the school has seen thousands of children from diverse backgrounds go through its "dare to dream' programme.
The school, which is supported by various donors is open all through the week and students attend classes free of charge.
"Me I want to be like a professional teacher and to be a professional performer, to travel the world and just meet new people, because I love meeting new people, making new friends and also like learn about other people, like other cultures in different countries, that's where I want to be like in the future, just travelling around," said Phelelani Ndakrokra, a performer.
"For me like circus has been like my dream ever since I was young, growing up in the streets of Khayelitsha or doing acrobatics in the streets and all that, but now I'm actually living the dream here in this big tent with lots of fun and enjoying myself," said Aviwe Shaun Mfundisi, another performer.
The circus has held over 27 international tours performing for presidents and celebrities since it was started.
Many former students are now professional performing artists working in Europe and North America and won various awards in recognition of their work.
Brent van Rensburg is a co-founder and director of Zip Zap Circus School.
"When we started, like I said 25 years ago, we started with about 20 children. Today we have eight programmes reaching over 1,500 children a year and still growing, so we have four outreach programmes, we work with children from the SOS children's village, we work in partnership with Doctors Without Borders in Khayelitsha teaching children living with HIV. We have kids who have become professional performers overseas and some of who have even started their own circus schools over the years so thousands of kids have passed through our doors for the last 25 years," he said.
After class, Mfundisi heads to his house in Khayelitsha, Cape Town's largest black township and home to 750,000 people.
The low income settlement is known for gang violence and a high crime-rate.
Mfundisi says the circus school has helped him stay out of trouble and focus on growing a career.
Skilled performers like him get a monthly stipend of about 112 US dollars under the program and get to go on circus tours.
"This year a few months ago, we went to Switzerland to perform for Roger Federer and Andy Murray most amazing tennis players in the world, so it was really great to meet Roger Federer in person and actually touch his hand and shake his hand and speak to him. It was really nice as we never met him before and we were amazed we were meeting a player, professional player who's doing very well in sports and that's what we are trying to build at Zip Zap we are trying to see the future. It's not that you have to lose everything, you can take a road to success by doing like circus, sport and all that," said Mfundisi.
Mfundisi has won various accolades including most improved performer in 2014 awarded by Zip Zap.
The circus school organisers are currently building an academy that will enable performers work in a more spacious setting and also provide housing for students who find it difficult to commute to the school.
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