Pale Juu NeXt: Update Number One

Two weeks ago we started Vertical Circus’ Pale Juu NeXt program. We have 22 core participants and a further 10 to 15 people who engage in the training. The training starts with a one hour warm up every morning not for the faint hearted, led by local trainers Washika or Mohamed, more experienced students or myself. We jump, exhaust our stomach muscles, we have held our necks up for over 3 minutes whilst lying down, stretched our splits and backs and that all just in the first hour. We move onto classes in dance with the much liked and experienced dance teacher, Gabriel from Mozambique, as part of Sarakasi’s international trainer exchange program. Students build pyramids, do handstands on the floor each other and the wall.

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In the aerial arts I really feel that we are building on the foundations we had laid last year in the Pale Juu and Beyond project. Students have remembered many aspects of aerial technique and tricks, and have been training hard whilst we were away. Pale Juu NeXt is allowing students to further develop their skills and we are looking at creating individual acts for certain students.

This year we have included a weekly “techniques of teaching” session lead by Vertical Circus’ John Nyagah a qualified and experienced educator and social worker. We discuss with the participants what makes a good trainer, how can a trainer create a good teaching environment and other aspects of teaching. We then break into small groups so that students may practice teaching anything from dance, stretching and trapeze to acrobatics, capoeira and pole to other students in the group.

Afternoons include drumming sessions with Charleti, a Kenyan drumming and percussion expert, along with his vast knowledge of Kenyan Swahili songs. He sings, the students repeat I try my best, their memory is amazing – we have even covered some Swahili tongue twisters! Such as Kakaa kale ka kuku kako, kadogodogo kaliako kokoliko, kako kakaa.

We also embark on physical theatre games and techniques to create new and exciting movement material for the students. These sessions can be quite challenging and new. I am however very impressed by the openness, creativity and talent amongst the group.

There are 14 students from last year, 7 new students and Ngala from the Wema Watoto Orphanage who was with us last year to expand his skill set as an acrobatic teacher, which he can then pass onto his students at the orphanage. Again we have 3 core deaf students and welcome all of the deaf Sarakasi artists to our training.

This year will see some of the Saraksi Dancers participate in aerial classes.

Every Friday I am teaching a further 20 students at the Mighty Jambo Circus Academy. Focusing on act creation with their diploma students.

Thank You to all our supporters new and old who have made this project possible.

Stay tuned for further developments in Vertical Circus’ Pale Juu NeXt program in partnership with Sarakasi Trust.