Residentie Circus Debre Berhan

Ethiopian children dream of being admitted to their local circus. By exercising acrobatics and showing the audience their talent, they obtain shelter, money and self-confidence. The Circus Debre Berhan offers a better existence to more than hundred children. During festival Le Guess Who?, november 2016,the Circus Debre Berhan visited Utrecht for some unique activities.

The Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan was founded in 1998 in the town of the same name, which is a three hours drive from Addis Ababa. In Ethiopia, the circus is not an old tradition in itself, but it has a huge impact on the community nowadays. The circus plays an major social role, and is also economically of importance. In november 2016, some of the circus children visited Utrecht for a Residentie program.

1. Performance at Le Guess Who?
Music festival Le Guess Who? presented a comprehensive Ethiopian program in 2016 in cooperation with the Dutch experimental rock band The Ex. This band has a special relationship with Ethiopia and at Le Guess Who?, The Ex organized an afternoon with many Ethiopian artists. The series of events was opened by Circus Debre Berhan on Sunday November 13 at 14:30 at Plein 5 in TivoliVredenburg.

All photos: © Tim van Veen

Video: Arlette Coenradi

2. Curriculum IMC Weekend School
Students of IMC Weekend School Utrecht (aged between 10 and 14 years) follow additional school courses on Sunday, where they are taught by volunteer guest lecturers of different professions. This november, IMC Weekend School offered its third-year students a two-day training program about the Ethiopian circus. The aim of the lessons and the circus is to show the Utrecht students that commitment and passion can lead to succes and a better welfare.

In this view, the circus is a life lesson on social entrepreneurship. As long as you train hard, you might be selected to be part of Circus Debre Berhan. Which means that you will earn enough money to provide for yourself and your family. After a lesson on social entrepreneurship at their school in Overvecht, the IMC Weekendschool pupils visited TivoliVredenburg, on the second school day, to see the Circus Debre Berhan perform. But first, the students met the Ethiopian children and learned some tricks.

3. Visit to Wilhelmina Kinderziekenhuis
On Monday, November 14th, Circus Debre Berhan visited the Children’s Hospital of the University Medical Center Utrecht, Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ) in Utrecht. The children of the circus give a show in the main hall of the hospital, and thus entertained patients and their parents. The WKZ considers it important that the lives of sick children can go on as normal as possible and thinks entertainment is essential.

All photos: © Joy Kobussen

About the Circus Debre Berhan
Circus Debre Berhan offers work to more than hundred young acrobats who provide unique and often very challenging acrobatics. In the acts, Circus Debre Berhan integrates typical Ethiopian features such as traditional music, local costumes and hairstyles. The performances are usually held in public areas such as markets and squares to maximize the audience reach.

The circus is characterized by very close group dynamics and wishes to give street children the chance to develop their talents, and to provide a living. Cooperation, solidarity and perseverance are the keywords of the circus’ philosophy, just as providing information on topics as HIV prevention and women’s rights.

More pictures of the Le Guess Who? performance:

About Le Guess Who?
Le Guess Who? has become the Netherlands’ go-to event for experimental, collaborative, and otherwise out of the box musical thinking. Combining today’s burgeoning talent with legendary, one-of-a-kind acts it creates an atmosphere that electrifies the picturesque city of Utrecht. The festival celebrated its tenth Anniversary in 2016, 10-13 November in the city centre of Utrecht with venues ranging from churches and galleries to theaters and pop venues, including TivoliVredenburg, EKKO, De Helling, Janskerk and Theater Kikker. Each plays host to a deftly curated line-up.

About the IMC Weekend School
IMC Weekend School, founded in 1998, introduces children aged 10 to 14 from disadvantaged neighborhoods and often of migration background to the world of work through passionate professionals acting as volunteers. It has 10 branches throughout the Netherlands. In a three-year course, volunteers introduce students to a wide range of professions and topics, including medicine, law, computer studies, philosophy, astrology, and the arts. The curriculum also includes training in presentation, research, debate, and conflict resolution – an allround character education. The goals of the program are to provide students with the skills, knowledge, and audacity that are needed to find a place in society that matches their capacities. The 10 Dutch branches have 1,100 students. In Utrecht, a lot of pupils from Overvecht are involved.

About the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital
The Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (Wilhelmina Kinderziekenhuis, abbreviated WKZ) devotes itselves to innovative treatments that meet the healthcare needs of today and the future. The WKZ wants to prevent and cure disease through patient centered care that is tailored to the needs of the individual.


Photo: © Tim van Veen