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Innovative circus program boosts community pride

Date posted: 10 July 2013

An Aboriginal community has found the development of a local circus troupe has been successful in raising the self-esteem of young people and lifting the spirits of Elders.

In less than a year since its creation, The Ninja Circus from the Mutitjulu community has seen teenagers perform in front of 85,000 Australian Football League (AFL) fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and created a new sense of pride among residents.

The program was initiated to stop the drug, alcohol and petrol-sniffing problems reappearing in the small Aboriginal community, which was once seen as one of the nation's most troubled. Elder, Reggie Uluru said the program had kept children occupied and prevented them taking to the cannabis and alcohol that still materialise.

‘We're finished with petrol,' Mr Uluru said, ‘We got the petrol out of here. But other things are coming in here, making trouble. (The circus) thing is good. And we go hunting emu, kangaroo.'

The program was the brainchild of French-born youth worker Ludovic Dumas, who trains up to 20 teens at a time in juggling and acrobatic skills. Mr Dumas, employed by the respected Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Women's Council, said having seven Mutitjulu children performing at the MCG in the AFL's Dreamtime Round in May had boosted community spirits.

'The engagement and passion that the Mutitjulu kids have really surprised and amazed me,' Mr Dumas said.‘Everybody came back as a hero and everyone was very proud of them. Even for the kids that stayed behind, there were big shiny eyes, knowing that it will be their chance at any given time.' Mr Dumas has taken to leaving props in his car because children constantly ask if they can practise their skills at home.

For Deon Cole, 11 years, the program has given him the goal of one day performing in New York, despite only boarding a plane for the first time in May. ‘The MCG was good,' he said, adding that a visit to the National Circus School was better. ‘There was a big trampoline there. But they (my friends) all wanted to know what it looked like at the MCG.'

Source: The Australian


Last updated: 10 July 2013
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