Circus of My Sun
14 Feb 2012 08:05 GMT
A Moroccan circus is offering some of the country's poorest children a brighter future.
In Salé, across the river from Morocco's capital, Rabat, jobs are scarce and many children do not go to school. For a lot of young people there, life offers few opportunities - and many see little point in getting an education. When the circus first began 10 years ago it was a social project for children on the streets and in the slums of Salé.
As it grew, the talents of many of the young people involved came to the fore and in an international circus competition 10 out of the 12 prizes were won by young Moroccans from Cirque Shems'y.
The organisers saw that the circus could actually become a professional career for some of the young people involved and set about transforming it from a social organisation to a professional circus school - offering an internationally recognised vocational diploma.
Now entrance to the school is through a rigorous audition process, and of the hundreds of young people who come to try out from across Morocco, only a handful will make the grade. Fewer still will complete the rigorous training. In 2009 it reopened, complete with a full size circus tent and a rotating team of circus professionals from around the world who come to teach specialised skills.
With the new accreditation comes a new pressure - Cirque Shems'y must reach international standards and create an audience for their work in Morocco and beyond. The young performers are training to professional level but if there are no work opportunities for them this training is wasted.
So the circus has to build a circus culture in Morocco as well as training the young people who are part of it. It is not an easy task: Morocco does not have a circus tradition. Street acrobats and performers are common but contemporary circus - as an artistic and spectacular piece of theatre - is a completely new concept........
Cirque Shems'y is linked to Amesip, a Moroccan NGO that works with disadvantaged children and young people. They are funded by donors from across Morocco and Europe. But as the circus grows increasingly self-sufficient, it aims to become commercially viable.
Click here for more on the music featured in the film.