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A Touch of the Circus - A Touch of France trains performers for the ring

Published:Friday | November 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Participants demonstrating what they have learnt in their circus training.
The PACAM project-steering committee. From left: Pierre Lemaire from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; Sophie Balzing of Metis’Gwa, Guadeloupe; EleftheriosKechagioglou, PPCM, Paris; Nancy Papius, Touka Dance, French Guiana.

A Touch of France 2018 was a smorgasbord of Francocentric activities. The expo invited international chefs, world-renowned musicians, and haute couture fashion designers for cultural exchange with various local industry players and aspirants. One outstanding component of this year's presentation was circus training.

"The idea is to get people from different places to do regular circus training over the course of three years," festival chairman Pierre Lemaire told The Gleaner. This is done through the Caribbean Amazon Dance and Circus Passport (PACAM), a three-year project that aims to develop artistic sectors in the Caribbean by creating complements between different artistic forms and offering training in cultural entrepreneurship.

Led by professional French circus performers, local participants from the schools of drama and dance at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts theatre and dance professionals were recruited to the five-day training programme. The programme had approximately 20 participants, and at the end of the programme, the five most consistent participants were asked to demonstrate what they had learnt. The next round of training will take place in Martinique.




The programme has two components: cross-border and transnational. The cross-border component covers only project carriers located in Guadeloupe, Martinique, a country or territory of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The transnational component concerns project holders located in Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Saint Martin, and the wider Caribbean. "Two out of the five performers will be carried to work with the project overseas," Lemaire said.

PACAM is co-financed by INTERREG Caribbean, under the European Fund for Regional Development, as well as institutional and private partners such as The Direction Artistic Culturelle of Guadeloupe and the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, among others. INTERREG Caribbean is a European Territorial Co-operation programme allowing operators from Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint Martin to implement win-win projects with their neighbours in the Caribbean.

Lemaire is currently working on bringing participants from the programme's last three years to perform in Jamaica. "That production is ready. I'm hoping to bring it in April, so we can see what it's like," he said.

He is also organising the next instalment of training sessions in Jamaica. "It was scheduled for March, with a follow-up to be done a month or two after that. But we're trying to push it to June so our students don't have to leave for training during their exams," he said.