Afrique en Cirque @ Assembly Hall

Afrique en Cirque is a mesmerising mix of storytelling, circus, and music, and a dynamic celebration of African culture

Review by Nyeleni Superville Blackford | 24 Aug 2023
  • Afrique en Cirque

Yamoussa Bangoura's Afrique en Cirque, presented by Cirque Kalabanté, unfolds as a mesmerising showcase that seamlessly melds narrative, circus artistry, dance, and music. Crafting the narrative from daily life in Guinea, this performance is a dynamic celebration of African culture, brimming with beauty, energy, and youthful artistry that transcends borders.

The performance presents an exceptional fusion of storytelling and awe-inspiring circus tricks. The narrative dances harmoniously with gravity-defying acrobatics, resulting in a captivating symphony of movement. At the core of this spectacle is a musical accompaniment that wields a powerful influence, adding depth and resonance to each scene. These melodies are not just auditory; at times, they create humour and accentuate the light-hearted moments.

A group of Black circus performers on stage. One balances on another's head, while three performers on the ground hold them in place. Two musicians can also be seen on stage.
Afrique en Cirque. Photo: Wendell Teodoro

One of the most enchanting aspects is the incorporation of Guinean languages, which adds the impression of authenticity and generates connection with the audience through call-and-response engagement. This interaction enhances the overall experience, weaving a sense of intimacy between the performers and spectators. The performance exudes athleticism and rhythm, the acrobats executing astonishing feats that defy the laws of physics. The contortionist in particular, with his incredible flexibility, moves in a way that is spectacularly unsettling and entrancingly graceful. 

Vibrancy and power emanate from every corner of the stage as the space is utilised to its full extent; the set corroborates with the costume design in a manner both commanding and vivacious. Each scene and sound is strategically intertwined with movements that carry emotional weight, enriching the narrative and heightening the impact.

Afrique en Cirque is a testament to the universality of art's language, inviting audiences to experience the soulful and boundless creativity of African culture. Prepare to be transported into a realm where narrative and movement coalesce, forging an unforgettable experience that lingers long after the final curtain.

Afrique en Cirque, Assembly Hall (Main Hall), until 28 Aug, 5.05pm, £17.50-18.50