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Friday, November 21, 2008

Not your dream circus

DENNIS D. MUHUMUZA

The Kampala Dream Circus that promised to be was after all ordinary. It appeared to me the organisers poured their all in painting faces and picking masks than planning memorable performances.

Sylvain Bernabe, a guest from France who was expected to show Kampalans fireworks did a couple of flip-flops and other aerial acts with a colleague that lacked that colour that would leave the crowd in awe; the homeboys far outstripped him.

However, his counterpart in Germany’s Mareike Moerschen had some magic up her sleeve in a performance titled “Love under Water” in which she set out to woo a marine she was in love with. Accompanied by the sound effects of bubbling water, her suppleness and fitness were things to marvel at as she “swam” under the waters and pulled daring moves using a piece of blue cloth strung high on a rail.

Dr. Diotribe is a clown that’s no stranger to the Ugandan stage. He was one of the main acts and appeared with his clumsy walk and bulbous red nose and waltzed with a red nosed old white lady in a straw hat. Then he juggled balls, mimed washing his hands and proceeded to pull from his pants his well known orange underwear with which he wiped his hands. These are moves many Ugandan theatregoers have seen him perform over and again which makes them quite unbearable. To be fair though, he had children giggling heartily which can only mean they enjoyed him immensely.

About 90 per cent of audience at Nakasero Primary School playground where the show took place on Saturday were white children and their parents. Their faces were inscrutable while their own performed and then they stood up and watched intently as if to pick something from what ours had to offer.

The Fondodelik Squad, a group of Rastafarians who had earlier in the day performed at Hotel Africana were on spot in red baggy overalls dancing energetically and spectacularly to the Congolese rhythms of Awilo Longomba. One of them, Fireman, sent the children into hilarity when he pushed flames down his undergarments and jumped up and down as if being blazed. Then he collected himself into unusual calmness before swallowing tongues of fire. His acts had the day’s emcee, Susan Bamutenda, begging the children not to play with fire when they get home. The Fondodeliks also writhed and coiled like snakes around the stage, and using each other as steps glibly made a tower atop which was a small boy who threw balls way above him, catching and throwing them back in fluid succession. Another entertainer walked on wire, stopping midway to remove his trousers, and still balancing on the wire, putting them on again. They also played tricks with a bicycle rim, leapfrogging on their butts and somersaulting in so spectacular a way it seemed to defy gravity.

Organised by Alliance Fran├žaise Kampala and the Ugandan German Cultural Society together with In Movement: Art for Social Change, the circus had the Break Dance Project flaunting a large repertory of dances that understandably excited the children.

But the mature people were the more charmed by Black and White – a modern dance by the Burudani Dance Company in which two black men clad in red pants and white tops danced with a white lady apparently to explore the prejudices caused by race. The dance is actually one-hour long but was reduced to a few minutes because of time.

So the Kampala Dream Circus didn’t have the audience jumping about with enthusiasm as is so at many circus performances but the effort must nevertheless be applauded for our interest in circus entertainment has been kindled and there’s no looking back.


Daily Monitor, Saturday, November 15, 2008