It all started with a trip. Brent van Rensburg brought Laurence Estève to his home country and while the beauty of South Africa captured their hearts, they were also struck by the vulnerable children from impoverished communities. Inspired to help these kids, Brent and Laurence hung a trapeze bar in a tree at Zimasa Primary School in Langa. Their aim? To inspire and empower the kids, and show them what it means to be part of a team. Twenty-five years later, this one act has become an incredible NGO that brings children from all walks of life together.
The Zip Zap Circus School provides children with the opportunity to learn circus and performance skills, and – beyond that – allows them to experience a sense of achievement, community and potential to improve themselves through art. After founding the school in 1992, Brent and Laurence made their visions and mission more clear. In 1994, they embarked on their first South African tour and, two years later, they did their first international tour to Denmark.
They settled into their first space in 1998, offering lessons free of charge to all children. Since then, their small programme in Langa has expanded to a reputable school with a base in the CBD, nine programmes and more than 1 400 children under their wing. The Zip Zap kids have performed for numerous world leaders, most recently in 2016 for President Obama at The White House, and have done 27 international tours and numerous media showcases. The organisation has also been locally and internationally recognised for their work.
But despite all the success, the heart of the organisation remains focused on empowering children. Thousands of kids have passed through the Zip Zap Circus School doors over the past 25 years. Some children take their skills and pursue careers in circus, stunts, modelling and the film industry while others have stayed on as mentors and teachers, helping to shape a new generation. All of them belong to a community that has changed their lives forever.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Zip Zap Circus School, a host of events and projects will be held between April and September – and you can take part in many of them. Zip Zap has teamed up with a number of schools and NGPs to help raise funds for their chosen cause and will also be showcasing their newest show titled ’25 Years – An Acrobatic Walk Down Memory Lane’ where the talented kids will tell the story of their incredible journey.
For more information on shows, visit the Zip Zap Circus site.