Rwandan acrobatics troupe to wow the Maltese Islands

Rwandan Acrobats Fly through the Air

Rwandan acrobat Elysée Niyonsenga does backflips to forget the past. 11 members of his group, Future Vision Acrobat, were orphaned during the Rwanda genocide. Now they're bringing joy to their community through serious acrobatics.

Posted by AJ+ on Friday, April 7, 2017

Five members of the Rwandan Future Vision Acrobat (FVA) troupe are coming to Malta and Gozo to share their talent and life stories through a series of performances, as well as a five-day workshop for young people.

FVA was founded by Elisée Niyonsenga, a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 who found solace in acrobatics when he saw a Cirque de Soleil performance on TV in a restaurant where he had stopped by for some donated food.

At the time, Elisée was just eight years old and had been living on the streets since he lost his mother in the genocide, and was struggling to survive while also looking after his younger brother.

Elisée says discovering acrobatics: “was like a new door to me to get out of a life with no smile. I started to go to the beach trying to copy what I saw on the TV. It was the only way I could find my happiness and feel open and relaxed. I was escaping my pain and to forget what happened.”

By listening to Elisée’s life story, young people attending the Circus4Life workshops will not only learn amazing circus and acrobatic skills and make new friendships, but will also experience how circus and acrobatics bring hope, happiness and unity as well as learn how to respect others regardless of their race, religion or nationality.

Life as a “spiritual acrobatic performance” – Gozo Bishop

This initiative is being organised by non-profit social enterprise RISE (Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise), Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Diocese of Gozo.

“When we consider that our life is a spiritual acrobatic performance because we are all the time struggling to maintain our balance while daring to move on, we welcome the team from Future Vision Acrobat from Rwanda,” Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said, “I am pretty sure that because of their troubled political and social background these people are experienced life ‘acrobats’. Thus I consider their visit as an opportunity for human and cultural growth, a meeting of dialogue among cultures and an occasion to witness to the Gospel of charity. A dialogue that takes into account people’s actual experience, suffering and aspirations is really a privileged opportunity. I am grateful to RISE that made this dialogue possible.”

“The timing of the trip seems very appropriate given that Malta is going through some challenging times with the ever-changing population flow of people from all over the world living on the island”, said Daniela Gusman, Founder of RISE. “I have known Elisée and his team since 2013 when I was working in East Africa and I am very excited that FVA are finally coming to Malta to share their experiences and talent with us here.”

“The acrobatic social circus has obvious effects on the wellbeing of young people.” Miriam Teuma CEO of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ stated, “The attention is focused on controlling the body and the equipment, on balance and movement. Focused practice lets young people experience success. The atmosphere is encouraging and failure is accepted because everyone makes mistakes at some point, and only by trying again it is possible to learn new things. The workshops promote team spirit, and positive experiences increase the young peoples’ confidence. The activity itself lifts the spirits and creates a sense of calm. Young people also learn to trust themselves and to understand differences.”

High energy and emotive performance

Young people participating in the five-day workshop will culminate in a performance on the 21st September called ‘Changing the Story,’ where they will get to show off what they have learnt and perform with the internationally acclaimed Future Vision Acrobat trainers.

Performances will take place on the 21st September at 7.30pm at the De Porres Hall in Sliema and on the 23rd September at 7.45pm in St George Square, Rabat, Gozo.

More information may be found here.