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With "Yé!", Guinea shakes up the contemporary circus

With "Yé!", Guinea shakes up the contemporary circus
Artists from the Guinean company "Circus Baobab" perform during the show "Ye!" at ...   -  
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Acrobatics, pyramids, hip-hop: with only their bodies overflowing with communicative energy as their only accessory, the 13 young acrobats of Circus Baobab, a social circus from Guinea, electrified the Marseille public with "Yé!", a show that will take place in Paris in April.

Faced with spectacular acrobatics which follow one another at a sometimes frenetic pace, punctuated by the flashes of a stroboscope and a musical composition with urban influences, we could almost forget that we are witnessing a "succession of beautiful, very real dramas", details to AFP the director, Yann Ecauvre.

This creation, presented in Marseille as part of the International Biennial of Circus Arts (Biac), tries to show " the African human being in all his strength" but without obscuring the violence that also strikes this continent.

On either side of the path that crosses the marquee and serves as a stage for the acrobats, empty and crushed plastic bottles are strewn on the ground. Around them crystallize all the tensions generated by access to the increasingly rare resource that gives its title to the show, water ( “Yé” in the Soussou language, editor’s note).

"There is an omnipresence of plastic and its derivatives in Africa, due to an invasion of China", continues Yann Ecauvre, who sought to draw inspiration from the daily life of the young acrobats of the troupe with whom he spent a lot of time. time in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

I tried "to go towards a form that completely breaks the codes of the usual African circus", where the figures and the choreographies follow one another without downtime, which still relates to the founder of the company "Inextremiste". “You have to go towards reality” was my mantra, laughs the director.

Thus this scene where the contortionist Amara finds himself trapped in the middle of intense car traffic is represented by the lines of spectacular acrobatics of his comrades.

In another painting, a breakdancer deploys all his virtuosity with his back to a group watching a football match on television. But at regular intervals, he finds himself flat, causing the shutdown of the television set and the ire of the group of supporters. An allusion to the incessant power cuts in Africa, comments Yann Ecauvre, where "what remains the cheapest is the human crank in the end."

The impressive human pyramids formed by the 11 men and two women of the troupe - aged 18 to 32 - also recall the sense of the collective of those who consider themselves a family.

"Circus Baobab gave meaning to my life, I became someone thanks to him, he made me grow, educated me, gave me everything by making me believe in me", remembers Kerfalla Bakala Camara, the current director of the company.

The adventure of this circus with a social and solidarity vocation began in 1998 in Guinea, under the impetus in particular of Pierrot Bidon, the founder of the Archaos circus.

The ambition of the company, which welcomes in Conakry a hundred young people whom it trains in the arts of the circus, is to offer a future "to children who have not had the chance to go to school", develops Kerfalla Bakala Camara, who himself joined the troupe when he was only ten years old.

Since then, Circus Baobab has largely contributed to changing the image of the circus in Guinea, he believes: "Today, there are even some families who send us children when before we were considered a delinquent. “ if we were doing the acrobat, he recalls.

In one of the last scenes of "Yé!", the artists take turns addressing the public in soussou before being projected into a net filled with empty bottles.

"I told them: throw away everything you find that is wrong with your world", reports Yann Ecauvre. “When they are ejected, they launch: and now, where do we go? ”, he adds. Because he concludes, "it always gets up despite everything", thanks to "the brotherhood of the group".

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