The Fekat Circus came to ICS this weekend.
It’s not Ringling Brothers, which in my opinion is a good thing, and I think the tigers and elephants would agree. This being Ethiopia, and Fekat being a not-for profit operation, you could call it no-frills. Although Ethiopia has only a very short circus tradition, the acts draw to some extent on Ethiopian culture, and props are things like boxes, straw hats, and Ethiopian flags. The show relies on the skill of the performers to wow the audience. You won’t see dancing animals or motorcyclists flying through flaming hoops, but there are talented jugglers, gymnasts, clowns, and contortionists.
I was officially there with the Student Council, who made a bundle of birr selling cotton candy to benefit the Philippines. Luckily the kids knew a lot more about making cotton candy than I did, so I got to sneak away and watch the show.
If you should happen to be interested in the history and function of Ethiopian circus, I found an informative article on JSTOR; oddly, I was able to access it last week but not today. But maybe you can find it somewhere else. It’s from African Arts Journal, whose executive editor is my old friend Leslie… (hi, Leslie!)
Niederstadt, Leah. “Fighting HIV with Juggling Clubs: An Introduction to Ethiopia’s Circuses” African Arts 42.1 (2009): 76-87. JSTOR. Web. 14 Feb 2014.