Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

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Circus Hub on the Meadows

August 8-12, 14-19, 21-25 (15.00)


Having enthralled audiences in 2017, Ethiopian circus company Circus Abyssinia is back to wow Edinburgh all over again. Created by self-taught brothers Bichu and Bibi Tesfamariam, they bring with them a cast of brilliant young performers from their circus school. The performance is directed by stage and screen director Cal McCrystal and portrays the real-life story of their dreams of being in the circus. In 2010, they went on to create the first circus school made by and for Ethiopians, and embarked on a wonderful journey to develop a stand-out show full of dazzling acrobatics, dance with a hefty twist of their own culture. The brothers are now resident in the U.K., and they have performed on BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

After a colourful and energetic showcase of acrobatic dance by the men and boys in the troupe, two young women in long braids and green catsuits arrived in a crab walk to deliver a mesmerising and stunning partner yoga dance. Handstands, crabs and scorpion positions flowed and combined, the gymnastic pair balancing on top of one another in increasingly mind-blowing ways. The juggling acts to rhythmic beats seamlessly upped the challenge to multitude of balls until you barely knew where to focus your eyes. Four girls in cute and colourful outfits expertly spun polka-dot cloths on all four limbs at dizzying speed, creating a kaleidoscopic effect of lost, drunken butterflies at warp speed. When a solo performer cheerfully stepped on stage with a single hoop, no one was fooled by its apparent simplicity. As more and more rings were spun simultaneously, it became Power Hoop in overdrive to a catchy Ethiopian sound-track. By the time she rolled us a cheeky spin just around the bun on the top of her head, the crowd went wild.

The whole show has a happy, feel-good family vibe, where everyone looks like they are genuinely having a great time. Girls in pink leotards converged to resemble petals on a tropical flower, but they are no means delicate. They climbed higher and higher into a statue of scorpion splits, looking almost casual, until they took it to a point that made everyone’s mouth drop open. With just ten minutes to go, the poles came out. In synchronised moves that must require ultimate human strength, the team of men upped the ante over and over again, in the finale of a show that had the audience up on their feet in well-deserved applause.

Lisa Williams

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