Celebrating Social Circus in Yangon
When the international call went out back in January to help create a chain of global events to mark the first ever International Social Circus Day on April 2, there was no hesitation from Serious Fun Yangon coordinator Virginia Henderson.
Virginia knew the social circus teams would be keen, fresh from a four-month dry season residency by Serious Fun training specialist Jules Howarth and the Day of Fun finale in February. And she knew the Circus4All troupe are always ready to share what they do with others. The only question was what sort of event to stage during the hottest time of the year in Myanmar.
It became a weekend of events – a photo exhibit, public workshops both days and a fire show on Saturday night – at the Yangon Gallery, with its delightful exhibition space (and air con) located in a picturesque corner of People’s Park.
Photographs of the social circus teams and Circus4All were printed on large vinyl, mounted on plastic pipe and hung on the pristine gallery walls. Drinks and snacks were arranged with social circus supporters 100 Plus and Seasons Bakery at City Mart. Transport, music, circus props, kids; check check, check.
As expected, it was hot. With the temperature at 43 degrees outside, the Yangon Gallery’s cool aircon made it a very enticing venue. First to arrive were a dozen young women from Ratana Metta Organisation, who trained with Jules in 2015.
“RMO young women are familiar and confident with all the props and just flew to their favourites, instantly bringing the gallery to life,” said Virginia. “One of them, Htet Het, was awesome. She seems to have mastered everything.”
“I just love showing what I can do with these props. We learned and now we can show off. I also like to help the others learn,” Htet Het said.
With photos of the teams in action on the walls, and videos of previous social circus activities, (the Burma Webisodes and Day of Fun) looping continually, the weekend celebrated the art and joy of social circus and created “tons of laughter and excitement” according to Virginia.
“The kids were particularly excited to see themselves in the videos and on the walls,” she said.
Learning Circus Skills
Workshops took place on Saturday and Sunday as Circus4All as the social circus teams passed on their skills to each other and the public.
“Each day we had an intense few hours of free flow spontaneous workshops,” Virginia said. “It was wonderful to see things like the Save the Children group of demobilized child soldiers teaching poi to the children from Scholarships for StreetKids. And theCircus4All team were great. We had Maya leading line dances with hoops and Pho Kae the plate master in demand all day and smiling non-stop. Everyone loved it.”
What did people think?
People walking through the park came across the scene and joined in.
“It’s extraordinary! All these people, big and small playing together having such a fun time. I’ve never seen such a performance,” said one man.
“My friends and I were just wandering around the park and found this great activity. What a surprise. We have really enjoyed sharing with everyone,” said Han Su Yin, a tailor from Hlaingtaya.
Yangon Gallery assistant Ko Htet said it was something new for her and her friends. “This is really special, great participation by all the visitors from many different places. Good to see everyone together having fun, being active,” she said.
Virginia described it as a weekend of delightful joy, action and fun. “We had great support from the Yangon Gallery and thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, it was absolutely fantastic.”