Once upon a time there was a volunteer from Romania who moved to Spain and found herself living with a CIRCUS MAN. Slowly, but surely she discovered the magical world of new-age Circus: a world of passionate and diverse people who worked hard to take centuries old disciplines and bring them to the 21st century in creative and exquisite ways.
Spain in one of the few European countries where the CIRCUS has a very special and profound meaning. It is not only a way of escaping the conventional by doing something as crazy as the flying trapeze or juggling 5 balls while maintaining balance on a gigantic ball, but also a social movement to improve the very society in which we live.
Eucima is one of the biggest circus festivals in Spain, and brings together more than 750 people from 27 different countries. That’s how I found myself sleeping for three nights in a tent in the middle of Madrid, surrounded by hula hops, Juggling balls and monocycles.
With very few money and many volunteers, the 8th edition of Eucima managed to put together a festival where with an entrance fee between 16-25 Euros, a person with no experience could try out the flying trapeze, the aerial silk or the devil sticks.
The only thing one had to do was have the courage to go and ask a total stranger if they would let you try out whatever they were doing. What I found amazing about this festival was the willingness of people to share their passion, knowledge and materials. I arrived with nothing but my tent and some clothes, but I received only positive answers and advices whenever I went to a person and asked if I could try out whatever discipline they were practicing. And so….I learned that the flying trapeze is as much scary as it is exhilarating, that there are no right ways of keeping a hula hop on your tummy, and that climbing up a silk can result in very fancy looking movements with just a couple of technical tricks.
Every night was crowned by a concert, contest or gala. Eucima brought artists from all over the world to perform in the Grand Gala, which was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I also discovered “Renegade”, a nightly event where EVERYONE can get on the scene and do their very best to catch the audience’s laughter and applause.
The world of Circus is still small in Spain, but the people in it are doing their best to spread this joyful and colorful world to outsiders. One can always look up classes for juggling or aerial silks, there are always spontaneous encounters in public parks where people can share their knowledge, and there are events such as Eucima that are open to everyone. Perhaps what attracted me most were the differences in ideas from the circus I knew as a child 20 years ago and what is happening now in Spain. There are no animals involved. No elephants or tigers rose up in closed and damaging environments. There’s a deep awareness on the mark each of us leaves on this planet, so there’s always a search for ecological ways of sustaining circus activities. There’s an unrecognized strength in the training and commitment of young people that rivals those of professional athletes.
I am lucky to have participated in such a fun and unconventional event and I warmly recommend anyone who has the possibility to involve themselves in circus activities to do so!
“Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.” Jodie Foster
Photos credits: Guillermo Lopez Menes and Laura Carmona López