‘Ethiopian Dreams’, by Circus Abyssinia

Lafayette, Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 12th August 2017

As part of our #CircusVoices exploration of critical forms, we responded to Circus Abyssinia’s debut show in a variety of ways.

50 word reviews:

A fun family-friendly circus show from talented young black performers. This hour-long performance displayed a really high skill-level in all disciplines – acrobatics, contortion, manipulation, juggling, & Chinese pole, but the abandoned narrative, unimpressive costumes & ethnic music felt like commercial not artistic choices. Not challenging enough for me.

A bright, enthusiastic show with lots going on but little substance. The standard of technical circus is astonishing, however the gender roles portrayed are problematic and any ‘narrative’ is soon abandoned. That said the crowd were enraptured and it seems like a good choice for an evening of unchallenging spectacle.

Taking the same loose narrative premise from Gifford’s Circus 2015 show Moon Songs, Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam dispense with sumptuous design to let the outstanding physical skills of the Konjowoch Troupe dominate the space and our attention in their own retelling of a journey into professional circus. Colourful. Buoyant. Unchallenging.

Two Ethiopian jugglers who dreamed of growing up to perform in an English circus take us on a gradually westernising journey of outstanding physical skills, to triumph in a jubilant double Chinese pole number incorporating eight of the company’s acrobats. Narrative is subtly insinuated and gender roles are seriously segregated.

A highly skilled themed traditional circus show. With a nod to attempting a narrative and a potential exploration into the meaning of costume and dance, it plunged into an exuberant flow of acts; Precisely executed, extremely technical and compelling. As our friend put it; claps not thoughts.

Two vertical poles form the centre of a competition of who can climb the highest, take the most risks and get the loudest cheers from the audience. Inventively outdoing their peers in a play of one-upmanship, performers tiptoe, rock and shunt to the top of the pole.

Tweet size reviews:

Highly skilled, trad circus show with impressive tricks in a variety of disciplines. It gives a nod to narrative and Ethiopian culture.

A bit dated & a bit of fun; cheesy contortion alongside fierce juggling, a storm up a Chinese pole & sloppy African dance motifs #review

#CircusAbyssinia Ethiopian Dreams showcases some phenomenal technical skills but little substance or emotional content. Claps not thoughts.

#CircusAbyssinia show @edfringe High skills in Ethiopian Dreams but not a dream I share: gender/ethnic stereotypes = uncomfortable me. ?

Warm applause well-deserved for #EthiopianDreams: extraordinary acrobatics, stunning contortion choreography in buoyant basic-themed premise







And we drew responses too:

Our initial post-show responses on coming out of the tent are recorded here:

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