On Saturday, April 2, 2016, something magical happened. Fifty-nine organizations and individuals from 32 countries across ALL continents on Earth worked together to create a tidal wave of joy and happiness. They celebrated the joy of social circus in local communities across the world through various ways.
The day would forever be remembered as the first ever #SocialCircusDay.
The celebration took place everywhere, from the east to the west, from the north to the south. Saturday morning came first in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. Our friends from Spin Matsuri held a fun circus workshop for the rural kids in Chiba prefecture. “I had a good #SocialCircusDay. So many happy faces, so much movement, so much awesome support from friends and neighbors”, said Kristen “Tick” McQuillin, the Ringmaster of Spin Matsuri. As you can see in the photo below, they had a lot of fun and laughter.
In mere hours, the fun spread to Australia. In Albury, New South Wales, Flying Fruit Fly Circus invited local kids to meet the cast of their performance shows. In nearby Fairy Meadow in Wollongong, Social Circus had a morning tea session where people can come, watch circus performance, and discuss on how circus can help youth at risk, special needs group, homeless and hungry people, refugees, and anyone with no access to arts. Meanwhile, in St. Kilda, Victoria, TrainStation Dance and Fitness opened their studio for the public – especially newcomers interested in circus – free of charge, so everyone can feel the positive value of circus.
Moving northwest to Southeast Asia, where social circus has seen rapid growth in recent years. In Indonesia, Red Nose Foundation did a performance at an elementary school, giving motivation to the local students to dream big. Not far away in Krabi, Thailand, Balloon Circus gave an open workshop in a public park. Serious Fun Yangon of Myanmar also ran shows, workshops, and a photo exhibition to celebrate the day. Meanwhile, in Cambodia, Phare Ponleu Selpak reinvested in local culture by teaching circus and performing arts to the kids in slum areas. The celebration in PPS was joined by young circus artists from Indonesia and Afghanistan, who were in Cambodia for several weeks for a joint circus workshop to prepare for the Tini Tinou circus festival on April 28 – May 8.
These photos may have you believe that circus is all about silliness and laughter. While this is true, circus is also believed to have deep positive impacts in psychological trauma healing. Our buddies at the Mobile Mini Circus for Children (MMCC) in Afghanistan celebrated the day with local kids in refugee camps, injecting the atmosphere with much-needed laughter and levity.
Afghan MMCC’s celebration gained support from Europe. In Denmark, the Dansk MMCC held a street performance in Copenhagen city centre to support their Afghan colleagues. While in Luxembourg, 9-year-old Sophia opened a garden concert especially dedicated for the kids in Afghanistan. “I saw so many happy faces and smiling children. It also made me happy and smile and I wanted to collect money for this circus. I was thinking how can I do that,” Sophia said on her motivation to contribute for a good cause at such a young age.
Other European-based groups were also celebrating for good cause. In Helsinki, Finland, Sirkus Magenta held a show in a retirement home, while Open Tsirkus Stage in Tallinn, Estonia, provided circus training for long-term unemployed adults. Circus celebrations with disadvantaged people were seen in Spain and Italy. Escola de Circ Saltimbanqui in Barcelona and Fondazione Uniti Per Crescere Insieme Onlus of Turin held circus performances and workshops for people with disabilities.
Celebrations also spread like fireworks in Africa. Circus Zambia in Lusaka celebrated the day with marginalized children in Chibolya Compound, bringing smiles to them. “Social circus is about using circus as a tool to bring social change. And that is exactly what we do in Chibolya…Building a place where you can run, jump, fly and land safely!!!” Circus Zambia posted on their Facebook page. In South Africa, ActionArte Foundation did a street parade, while Zip Zap circus made a visit to a farmland for a family day. Fekat Circus in Ethiopia also performed in a public space, while SENCIRK in Dakar, Senegal, gave a workshop at a street kids shelter. Across the sea from the continent, Aléa des Possibles visited public elementary school in Antananarivo, Madagascar, for free performances and workshops.
In North America, circus has been a mainstay in popular culture for decades and many groups in the United States and Canada joined the celebrations, big time! Holistic Circus Therapy and Trapeze Texas, for example, provided circus class for their local communities free of charge. Circus Harmony performed in a museum and promoting a book “Watch Out for Flying Kids” that tells stories about how downtown high class and sub-urban slums can build a great team in Circus Harmony, as well as Jewish and Arabic do in Circus Galilee. Wise Fool in New Mexico held a street parade as a campaign against children abuse, while Seattle’s SANCA made a circus flash mob!
Moving south to the Latin world, festive celebrations took place all around. In Puerto Rico, Educare’s Circus School invited the parents of their circus students to enjoy the laughter of circus. Circo Social Cuenca that uses circus to teach soft skills also celebrated with their kids. Bigote de Gato in Peru held a public show and workshop. In El Salvador, Sombrila Arte y Circo Social held a massive performing art celebration in the city hall, brought smiles and laughter to thousands eyewitnesses, and flooding the #SocialCircusDay hashtag in social media!
In total, social media websites were flooded by over 550 postings marked with “#SocialCircusDay” from 35 countries. There were also countless other unmarked postings showing Social Circus Day celebrations across the globe. For the first celebration, this is great! All participants have successfully brought joy and laughter to thousands of communities around the world. Through #SocialCircusDay, circus artists and enthusiasts everywhere celebrated the positive impacts of social circus in empowering local communities. In the end, this is what #SocialCircusDay is all about.
Next year, the celebration will come again, in bigger, louder, and more colorful ways. See you next year!