Quite an ambitious task, especially when it means involving about six groups of various disciplines : gymnasts, break-dancers, majorettes, dancers, hoola-hoopers, etc. But a challenge that Artistic Director for Barricade Orit Azaz and Circus Choreographer Mish Weaver enjoy taking on : "On Parklife [their previous outdoor project], we had involved up to a hundred volunteers, like in Brighton for instance. Here, we do have the language barrier issue that prevents us from expressing exactly what we want in terms of artistic direction, but the group volunteers are very understanding, motivated and serious. We all know that time is limited, but we all work very efficiently together !".
And obviously, the fact that the company and the imposing structure are based in the middle of the estate enables local residents to take it all in, from the rehearsals to the commented visits or the workshops. And they are proud of calling the artists by their names ’Salut Emilie !’, ’Hello Felipe !’, or to shout an « Everthing is fine ! » every time they walk past a member of the company !
’We started to see more and more regulars of the pub on the square put their chairs out and watch out rehearsals,’ Orit Azaz smiles. ’There’s always a crowd of kids around us, and some of them are here everyday, as soon as school finishes, and stay till dusk. And there’s Denis, a local resident who came to see us everyday, apart from one day when he had health issues. He came back the next day apologising for not turning up the day before !’
Mont-Liébaut would have experienced the life of the circus for one week, ’and we hardly ever experienced that here’, says delighted Arnaud Verkindere, Cultural Outreach Officer at Culture Commune.
Watch Orit Azaz’s video interview on community engagement in Mont-Liébaut .