Monday, November 23, 2020

International and Palestinian circus schools unite for freedom

By Eli Lillis - October 02, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Culture] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [culture] [palestine circus school]

On Thursday night the second Palestine Circus Festival opened in Istiklal Park in Ramallah.

The festival, titled 'United for Freedom’ runs until the October 6 and involves around 200 national and international participants.
The opening night saw the XY company from France perform their show 'Its Not Yet Midnight, a show about “balance and perfection and thus becomes one about imbalance and instability.”
The Palestine circus school teaches circus skills to over 230 children annually.
A large crowd welcomed the event, with seats sold out and further tickets sold as standing room only.
Amongst the crowd were Palestinian officials, a representative of the European Union and representatives from international and local cultural and artistic organisations.
The European Union Head of Cooperation, Alessandra Viezzer, told Maan news agency "circus has long been a strong tool for self-expression, entertainment and storytelling around the world. It brings all people together, whether young or old.”
"Today, we celebrate the opening of remarkable performances from Palestine and Europe,” Viezzer added.  
“The EU believes that culture is the best vehicle for the people and their narrative. This is why we support culture in Palestine: to tell the Palestinian story."
As performers from Gaza were denied permits to perform in the west bank, the decision was made to tour the Palestinian circus troupes to Gaza instead.
The festival is touring 32 locations that include Jerusalem, Ramallah, al-Bireh, Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Tulkarm, Birzeit and refugee camps, as well as the Gaza Strip, and Amman, Jordan's capital.
Performers come from the Palestine Circus School, the Nablus Circus school and also international circus troupes hailing from France, Britain, Chile and Argentina.

Shadi Zmorrod, Founder and General directory of the Palestine Circus School spoke to Palestine Monitor about the special place this festival has for its global guests.
“It’s important for internationals to come here and see the conditions in which we live under as Palestinians and that we are still able to create circus and make people laugh and be amazed.”
12 different performances are touring the country, with themes ranging from the plight of refugees worldwide to the ubiquity of smartphones to simply getting coffee.
Zmorrod spoke about these conditions and how it can cause problems whilst organising the festival.
“First we had some people get denied, and that’s a part of our daily life in Palestine, we get denied. We were also forced to cancel our event for tomorrow as we weren’t granted permits for the show in Jerusalem.”
But the show must go on, and the last festival was able to deal with these issues.
Zmorrod explained the last festival had one circus group from Kenya denied entry, and another from Morocco received their permits on the last day of the festival.
The show opened with a minutes silence for martyrs, and a show of solidarity for those currently facing demolition in Khan Al Ahmar.
Making the best of the situation, the festival last year was extended and an additional six shows were performed around the West Bank and Jerusalem, after receiving permits.
In a press release, the Palestine Circus School stated "the festival aims at strengthening the social and physical creativity of Palestinians and to unite their talents with international groups under the circus arts.”
All of the performance was undertaken without any safety apparatus. 
The Palestine Circus School also aims to to integrate and enable performers to highlight Palestinian identity and culture.
The Palestine Circus school is a non profit organisation started in 2006.
The opening also involved a street parade, with the participation of about 200 local and international artists, featuring circus, Dabkeh, Capoeira and other art forms.
The first Palestine Circus Festival was in 2016, celebrating 10 years of the school running.
Zmorrod describes the event as a success, and plans for the festival to be held every two years from now on.

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