Bathed in ethereal stage lighting, Yamoussa Bangoura combines strength with grace as he pirouettes like a ballet dancer, suspended by ropes above a captivated audience. A single female voice over a haunting drone provides musical accompaniment, while a giant glowing moon forms the eerie backdrop. The moment is suspenseful, a piece of stage magic. The young star is a natural-born performer.
“When I do circus, all the bad things go away”, says Yamoussa, who grew up in poverty-stricken Guinea. Now, his dream is to form an all-African troupe from Guinea’s best homegrown talent, to give others from his community the chance to travel the world performing. In this, he has much in common with Guillaume Saladin, a circus veteran with whom he has shared a stage. Guillaume also grew up a world away from the international circus scene and, like Yamoussa, wants to take circus back to his local community; a remote Inuit village plagued by an alarming rate of suicide amongst its youth.
In places still reeling from their colonial pasts and struggling to reconcile their history with the modern world, both men are using circus to imbue the youth with pride in their culture.