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See video.There are many factors that motivate me to participate in social circus projects. Before “joining the circus,” I studied International Development at Trent University. I am extremely interested in finding ways to meld these two passions of mine together. Over the years I have performed in a wide variety of contexts and have worked with organizations such as Cirque du Monde, Clowns Without Borders and Jeunnesse du Monde.
I have participated in several international and local projects combining circus, creativity and social development. These projects include: 6 months in Cameroon with Cirque du Monde, 1 month in Haiti in an orphanage, 2 weeks in the Northwest Territories. Both learning circus skills and performing have been and continue to be transformational tools in my life; allowing me to express myself, while constantly challenging and pushing my limits. I believe that circus can be an excellent tool to bring children to place of creativity, determination and self-expression. I also believe that laughter and play are integral factors to happiness, and that all children have the right to experience happiness.
The first international social circus project I participated in was in Haiti. Myself and a colleague, spent a month in an orphanage introducing the children to the wonder of circus arts and constructing a show with the children. After this, I participated in a Cirque du Monde project for six months in Cameroon, Africa. Circus had already existed in the orphanages of Doula for a number of years and my role was to bring new energy and skills to both the circus instructors and their students. I introduced the circus instructors to hula hoops and yoga, we also worked on clowning and acting. The next project I participated in was with Clowns Without Borders in the Northwest Territories. I was part a 5-person group including musicians and clowns, we spent a week touring francophone schools and centers. We also taught circus skills and the fabrication of circus props in several schools. The most recent project I participated in was in Sichuan, China. A project organised though the collaboration of Clowns Without Borders and Circus Action International, 4 performers participated in a mission in post-earthquake striken sichuan, performing for thousands of chidren still without real houses or schools.
In all of these experiences I witnessed first hand the beneficial effects of both watching and learning circus skills. Children were able to forget their present realities for a moment to learn, enjoy and laugh.
I have come to realize in my travels that “development” and social change don’t only happen where we travel. Our experiences can be transformational for those we meet and for ourselves while we travel but it is also incredibly pertinent to share our experiences with those in our home country. I hope that my stories and experiences will help encourage other people to travel, maybe even to do humanitarian work, or that it will at least broaden their horizons and become more globally aware.
As a performer, I sometimes get lost in the glitter and glamour of stage performing. I feel a need to remember how lucky I am to pursue a career in the arts, this is not a reality for the majority of people in developing countries; I feel that it is my duty to share this joy. Making art accessible is important to me.
Conception GriffMédia 2008
Last update : January 2009 - Social Circus section added, minor ajustments, Press release added.
Last update : July 11, 2008 - New video of Rebecca