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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Afrique en Cirque

Cirque Kalabanté

Genre: Circus, Physical Theatre

Venue: Assembly Hall, Main Hall


Low Down

Afrique en Cirque celebrates the beauty of African traditions combined with the troupe’s highly developed circus arts skills. The breathtaking show is a full hour of excitement, wonder, and thrills from a highly skilled African troupe.


It’s night in a village in Guinea, Africa.  The birds are chirping, women are mashing food in large barrels, and suddenly those barrels are turned on their side to become drums.  A drummer, saxophonist and bass player take their places in the upstage tents.  A performer appears with a kora, a 21-string instrument that is a cross between a lute and harp.  The driving music begins.

“If you can talk, you sing.  If you can walk, you dance.” That is the motto of this extraordinary dance/circus troupe from Guinea via Quebec. 

For the next hour we are treated to outstanding dance and circus arts highlighted by energizing music.  The acrobats are tumblers and fly through the air in somersaults, landing on the shoulders of another performer.  Their individual strength is impressive.  From hand-to-hand with one person balancing on the head of another performer – with just one hand – to six-person pyramid lifts, they perform each routine with ease.  Their bodies are so flexible that backbends that would make you dizzy are made to look easy and natural.  The contortionist moves through a shocking number of physical positions without seemingly hurting himself.  The large hoop called a Cyr Wheel provides the basis for a stunning routine of dance inside and outside of the apparatus. Audience interaction and comedy provide breaks in the dramatic moments.

Every single cast member is top notch. The acrobats are also dancers and contortionists, and two double as musicians when they pick up the shakers. The musicians are sensitive to the actions on stage.  They play with an acuity and dynamic range that compliments and heightens the storytelling and movement.  Their continuous soundtrack provides a driving pulse and energy to the show. The kora player is highly accomplished, producing  complex and intricate pieces on that extremely difficult instrument.

The set is all moveable parts.  Barrels become drums or stands for an elevated platform.  Simple pieces of wood morph into stages at various levels.  Mats are rolled out for tumblers then taken away.  All is complimented by very colourful costumes and some face paint.

This breathtaking show is a full hour of excitement, wonder, and thrills from a highly skilled African troupe.

The program is produced by Kalabanté productions, created in 2007 by Yamoussa Bangoura, a multidisciplinary artist of Guinean origin who has always dreamed of founding a circus school and having his own multidisciplinary company in African arts. Installed in Montreal for several years, Yamoussa Bangoura, Artistic Director of the company, shares his passion through the teaching of the various artistic disciplines which he has mastered in circus arts, African dance and traditional music of West Africa. Kalabanté meaning “go-getter, ambitious child, with exceptional courage” in the Sousou language. This not-for-profit organization pursues a double mission: the promotion of African artistic cultures and the realization of humanitarian projects, cultural exchanges, between Canada and Guinea.  Quebec is an obvious partner for circus arts, with its strong history of development of street artists who became Cirque du Soleil.

The show is currently on tour, with stops at the Edinburgh Fringe, across Canada, and in the U.S.