Campus is alive this month with sounds and music, circus, and many different languages. The sounds of drummers playing Brazilian inspired beats echo across the campus. Inside the circus school, artists from around the world are practicing in the sky and on the ground. This can only mean one thing: our Flying Circus Academy is in town!
The Story of the Flying Circus Academy
The Flying Circus Academy is a huge, multinational project spanning multiple years, four countries, and four disciplines. This project brings together Phare Ponleu Selpak, Babawatoto Circus Center, UFA Fabrik, Collectif Clowns d’Ailleurs et d’Ici, and PPS Germany in a massive undertaking: create an online academy for circus trainers around the world.
The project began in June 2016, when artists from Cambodia, Tanzania, Germany, and France all came together in Berlin to meet and bring this project to life. The goal? To bring together artists from around the world to collaborate and ultimately produce online non-verbal circus tutorials that could be used by trainers around the world.
Sounds ambitious? That’s because it is. We were able to set the project in motion during the first mobility in October 2016. Artists and teachers from Phare and UFA Fabrik travelled to Babawatoto Center in Tanzania to begin training together, sharing knowledge, and working with a documentary filmmaker.
And now, this March, the second mobility is coming to life right here on the Phare campus. For a little over a week, 16 trainers from four countries working in four disciplines have come together to share skills, train the trainers, and make tutorial videos.
Non Verbal Circus Tutorial Videos
As part of the mission of this project, our artists are working together to film circus tutorial videos. These videos are not intended for circus beginners. Instead, they want to film tutorials for circus trainers around the world. These videos will help trainers become better teachers.
But there is one problem: everyone speaks different languages! Luckily for us, circus a physical art. The goal of these videos is to show adjustments and techniques through the physical movements of circus, with little to no reliance on the words.
International Social Circus in the world today
Only through social circus could a project of this magnitude happen. When can you expect to find circus artists from Tanzania, Cambodia, France, and Germany all practicing together?
According to Daniela Titzi, Production Director of the Flying Circus Academy, the importance of projects like FCA is obvious.
“Since I became familiar with circus, 2 aspects of circus’s social capacity are clear to me: if you do circus, you are never alone. You always have at least 2 people. So, you need to learn how to trust, and how to be reliable. This, for me, is the basis of any art, and of any social connections.”
In a setting like this, our artists learn how to trust without relying on language. They learn that trust can cross borders, and that friendships don’t rely on a common language. For Phare Ponleu Selpak, this ties into one of our core values: collaboration. We actively promote collaboration between artists, cultures, and disciplines. The circus and music happening on campus this week is the embodiment of the vision of Phare: using the arts as a tool for human development and social change, within Cambodia and around the world.