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Morocco, Shemz’y circus school
2012

We are by the seaside, in a poor district of Salé, in the suburb of Rabah. There is an old fort, eaten away by the years. In front: a circus tent. And inside the tent, a large warehouse, some offices and a canteen… This is where the Moroccan National Circus School is established, far away from the city centre.

Created after Anne Fratellini’s visit to Rabah in the late 90’s, Shemz’y Circus trains artists coming from all over Morocco. And since 2009, the school delivers a national certificate for disciplines that are far less known in Morocco than traditional acrobatics.

French circassians take it in turn to teach all year round and to organise the festival, which takes place at the beginning of July. The young boys and girls work hard every day to bring their art to perfection. Among those, some come from the poor neighbouring district of Sidi Moussa. In fact, the association that runs the school has the ambition to re-integrate the street kids into the school system, and to get them to practice the art of circus for its creative, collective and sport virtues. A hope maybe to offer them a different future, far away from drugs and misery.

This photo reportage tells the story of a school, unique in Morocco and Maghreb. It also tells the story of those young artists and children living in the streets. We shared their daily life, questionings and desires. We witnessed a method, from social action to artistic project.

By the circus, every day, dozens of cars are parked near the sea-side, their passengers drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Such is the environment in which the young artists are evolving. They see the poverty of their district, the state of the neighbourhood, and they go back under the circus tent to work.

Text : Christophe Dabitch

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