Wednesday 26 March 2014

Local circus outfit to take its act to S. Korea

Social enterprise's invitation to overseas festival said to be a first
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2014

COMING soon to South Korea: a very uniquely Singaporean circus performance.

For a week starting in June, social enterprise Circus In Motion will put up an hour-long show at the International Clown Mime Festival in Incheon.

This is believed to be the first time a local circus outfit has been invited to perform overseas, which is why the group is putting a local spin on its segment.

Called Tikam Tikam, after a traditional guessing game, the show has been inspired by local games such as playing marbles and "coconut bowling" - a game often played at funfairs here, where a coconut is used as a bowling ball.

The show will also have a storyline about a group of friends taking a chance on a newcomer, as "tikam" in Malay also means "taking a random chance".

It will be directed pro bono by theatre veteran Jeremiah Choy.

"The audience is likely to see jugglers from all around the world," said the 51-year-old, who has directed shows at the Singapore Arts Festival, along with the annual ChildAid charity concert organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.

"So, to make our performance special, I thought of featuring our local pastimes."

Circus In Motion helps at-risk youth carve out a better future. The group's founder Jay Che said one of the most difficult tricks would be one where four performers perform with six diabolos - a kind of Chinese yo-yo.

Taking its act overseas is a major milestone for the outfit, said the 36-year-old former social worker.

When he first started the enterprise - which conducts workshops for at-risk youth and teaches life skills through circus arts - in 2006, the concept of a "social circus" was practically unheard of here. Getting funding was also difficult, he admitted.

Since then, the group has performed at events such as the ComChest TrueHearts charity show in 2011 and the Esplanade's Flipside festival in 2012.

He hopes that being invited for the 19th edition of the international festival in South Korea will help to increase awareness about the group, and kickstart a tour.

"We also want to break new ground for Singapore," he added.

If seats for all 14 runs of the show are filled, it would mean that its act, featuring five Circus In Motion members including Mr Che, would have been performed in front of almost 2,000 people.

Most of the performers are former at-risk youth. They have been training since January, three times a week for three hours each session.

One of the performers, full-time circus instructor Edward Chua, admits that he once suffered from low self-esteem and was addicted to computer games.

But this changed when he took an interest in circus skills, and the 23-year-old now specialises in the diabolo.

"I'm excited. I think we're ready to bring Singapore circus to the international stage," he said.


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