Southeast Asia’s largest circus festival celebrates 10 years in Cambodia

Festival features Cambodian troupe and circuses from five other countries, which will put on a series of shows in three cities, with artists holding workshops to share their art

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2016, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 11:15am

Southeast Asia’s largest circus festival opens in Cambodia this week, featuring a feast of jaw-dropping acrobatic displays to mark its 10th anniversary.

The Tini Tinou International Circus Festival begins on April 28, with six troupes from five countries presenting juggling, acrobatics, flame-throwing, trapeze acts and clowns.

Last year’s event attracted drew more than 4,500 people for eight nights of shows in the cities of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.

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“Cambodia is leading the region in contemporary circus,” says Dara Huot, CEO of Phare, The Cambodian Circus, which organises the festival. “Tini Tinou is a natural extension of this and we’re pleased to bring contemporary performers from all over the world to see and participate in our vibrant arts scene.”

Troupes from Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Nepal and France will perform alongside Cambodian artistes from Phare, who will debut their show “Influence”. Australia’s national youth circus, Flying Fruit Fly Circus, will premiere its show, “Stunt Lounge”; Collectif Open Ticket from France will perform “Sans Queue Ni Tete (Nonsense)”, and Canada’s Inner Ring Circus will wow the crowd with its juggling duo Cause and Effect.

The streets of the three cities will also be taken over by a series of pop-up events, with artists from Nepal, Indonesia and Afghanistan putting on free, improvised shows throughout the festival. There will also be street shows put together by artists in workshops on juggling, trampolining and street performance.

“Most artists don’t speak the same language and they come from very different backgrounds,” says Huot. “These workshops are an extraordinary way to transcend cultural barriers, learn new skills and form strong bonds. Giving this opportunity to our Cambodian performers and the international artists opens the doors to more working relationships in the future.”

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Tini Tinou, which means “here and there” in Khmer, made its premier in 2004. The circus’ parent group, Phare Ponleu Selpak, began as a multi-arts centre and circus school in Battambang, launched in 1994 by a group of men who had undergone art therapy to deal with their trauma as children living in refugee camps on the Thai border after Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia. They invited artists from across the globe to teach workshops and collaborate on projects, ending in a performance that was shown to the community.

In 2010, the annual festival was scrapped due to lack of funds. But it made a return in 2014, and was an instant hit, with all shows selling out and people demanding more. With this year’s festival set to be even bigger and better, the circus looks well and truly set to stay.

Tini Tinou is in Phnom Penh from April 28 to May 1, Battambang from May 3 to 6, and Siem Reap from May 8 to 10. For information, visit tinitinou.com. Phare perform daily shows in Siem Reap and Battambang. For information, visit pharecircus.org