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Weekend: Ethiopian Dreams

Due to a lack of time, I usually don’t write posts nor am I in the habit of publishing my own pictures other than to occasionally illustrate some articles. My photographic skills are nothing more than Instagram-grade snaps taken by an iPhone enthusiast. Dinho Lima and Nunzio DeNigris are the real artists of this blog. Nevertheless, when one has encountered something so impressive then one has to share, one has to do what needs to be done.


Last weekend I was fortunate enough to watch the Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams in my neighbourhood, at the Underbelly festival. The show is going to be running through to the end of May, and is absolutely amazing. It’s like someone took away the Hollywood bells and whistles from Cirque du Soleil for an “honest to God” genuine performance. The artists are pure, raw talent and you can see in their eyes the joy they take in performing.

The show is the brainchild of two Ethiopian brothers, Bibi and Bichu Tesfamarian from Kaffa, the birthplace of coffee. Their story started some twenty years ago when the young brothers were wowing the crowds with their street performances. Self-taught and determined, they first came to England in 1998 as part of one of the first Ethiopian troupes to tour Europe.

Bibi and Bichu Tesfamarian, founders of Circus AbyssiniaBibi and Bichu Tesfamarian, founders of Circus Abyssinia

In 2010, they returned to Ethiopia as young men and found many other would-be circus artists clamouring for an audience. They founded a circus school in Addis Ababa, later inviting their peers to join them for two seasons at England’s Giffords Circus.

Be careful what you wish for: I ended up becoming part of the show inadvertently at the hands of performer Daniel Gezahegn.

Bichu Tesfamarian, the youngest of the two brothers, always longed to direct and in 2017 at the Edinburgh Fringe Circus Abyssinia made its first appearance to the public. The first Ethiopian circus created by and for Ethiopian artists. From there onwards they were even invited to share the stage with Cirque du Soleil for the 2017 Variety Performance.

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