Castle Parade

Juggling clubs and playing melodica instrument on the wall in front of the cultural centre Le Chateau we were inviting citizens to our performance. Through the sandy streets, among the goats and fishing nets children rushed into the small hall.

On the 30th of January it was Senegal’s premiere of our contemporary circus act Uprooted.

After the show we invited the audience to attend juggling workshops in the upcoming weeks and opened community and social circus based project Castle Parade!

Next day a bunch of children experienced their first juggling (and giggling) lesson. Varying from very young (aged 5) and playful to older (aged 13) and dedicated students, girls even in bigger number than boys, we managed to create a wonderful atmosphere jumping over the language barrier. Most of the children speak only wolof, older also French.

Listening to French lessons by M. Thomas and talking to Senegalese friends we improved our French surprisingly fast in the last 2 weeks and are motivated to keep studying. It is rewarding to understand people’s wishes and needs, during the workshops or just on the street while shaking a stranger’s hand. After the lesson we hardly ran away from the children hugging us.

In the same period of time we started workshops in the French school L’ecole Saint-Exupery. Students were balancing their steps on the slackline, jumping the rope trying out acrobatic landings in the sand and juggling balls and clubs.

It was funny to see children running to the fence and waving to the big ship passing by on the river Senegal! Abdoulaye and Moussa, animators from Le Chateau, helped us a lot to cooperate with a lively mass of around 50 children, although we often face a lack of organisation or maybe just misunderstanding. Senegalese always build their work around their life and not the opposite as Europeans.

We are looking forward to test new rolabola, a balancing prop made by a local woodworker.

On the 15th of February we are preparing the final circus event, including our performance Uprooted, students’ act and hopefully an act of teenage dancers! 

Watching their loud 3 hours long dance battle I was fascinated with their skills, creativity and supportive energy and couldn’t resist to join them at their training next day on Le Chateau’s rooftop. We were free styling in dance and juggling and at the end I learned their special greeting, made of shaking hands, bumping together with shoulders and additional 3 dancing moves. I was happy that some of the dancers persisted and succeeded to juggle a basic 3 balls cascade in this short session and I could see twinkles in their eyes. But I will need to put an enormous effort to follow their precise dance moves, awakening the body and rhythmical sense. It looks like they were born dancing!

Living in a cosmopolitan city of Saint Louis with a rich and complex sound background, listening to the sheep bleating, horses tramping and distant drums while lying in the bed at midnight, reminds me of a festival atmosphere. As it was a never ending festival we are trying to prolong …

Text: Uroš

Photo: Uroš, Eva, Larissa, Abdoulaye & Mamadou