PWB Team India – Namaste from the Road to Ahmedabad

January 26, 2017

Namaste from the road to Ahmedabad!

Team India has recently completed its first and fabulous show to a warm and welcoming audience at Kudle Beach, Gokarna. The show has been the culmination of our boot camp adventures and was an incredible experience for all.

So, what was boot camp all about, I hear you cry? The first few days were a crash course in theatre, drama and clowning. We learned about major and minor roles, portraying emotions, reacting to each other and how to interact with and engage an audience. The next two weeks were structured in a way that allowed us to develop the show and refine our skills for teaching. Each day, different people were responsible for developing a warm up, a game and a mini-lesson they could teach to a group of kids – it was a lot of fun to have the chance to learn from each other as well as muck up in class! In amongst this we enjoyed lots of meals with each other – lunch or dinner were often opportunities to go to town to sample the local cuisine and of course, enjoy a variety of tasty desserts afterwards!

A large portion of each day was devoted to the construction and development of the show. This was quite an interesting process. From the initial meetings where we had ideas including hopeless clowns, robots in dodgy costumes, pirates and snorkels, we developed a heart warming tale of a group of friends and their broken blender which, when fixed by a Unicorn and her assistant the Duck, unleashes a world of circus magic. It was exciting to see everyone step into their different roles – whether they were choreographing routines, learning dances, editing music, creating posters, acquiring materials or the late night painting of our magical blender – everyone put in their two cents to help develop a spectacular show. We were also assisted in our rehearsals by a visit from Ali from Kathmandu Circus. She has an extensive history in the performing arts with No Fit State Circus and was keen to see what bootcamp with PWB involved. Ali provided friendly advice and was also our guest cinematographer down on the beach.


The show itself was fantastically exciting. After dragging all the equipment down to the beach for our twilight show, we were faced with a new challenge – how to prevent our magical blender from blowing away in the wind! Fortunately through a combination of burying it in the sand and tying it down it remained in place for the whole show. We paraded up and down the beach to gain attention and were aided by some delightful local kids who chanted and whooped the whole way! The show was definitely a hit – not only did the crowd respond by donating a generous amount of money, one of our main characters Johnny (the Duck) had a young girl run up and hug him during a bow in a fit of excitement. Our show even made an appearance in the local paper.16128543_10207818695415408_995568426_n

Oh and to update our animal adventures: Ling and Grant had a late night encounter with a python on the way back from the beach. Fortunately it allowed them both to pass and slithered slowly on its own way.


We are now off to Ahmedabad for a week! The whole team is incredibly excited to meet the kids in our first project with Manav Sadhna.
Till next time.



Kenya Blog Week 3 Sarakasi – by Jess

January 22, 2017

WARNING LONG BLOG… pick and choose a diary entrance or grab a cuppa and read them all!


Sunday 15th January

Today we endured a sweaty and delayed 15 hour journey from the humidity of Mombassa to the perfect climate of Nairobi at an elevation of 1870 meters. There is a sense of excitement in the group as we return to Nairobi to start the work with children having created our show at Bootcamp as well as spending some time getting to know our fellow team mates, work mates, room mates and play mates.


Monday 16th January

A day off! I took some time to explore the city as a tourist and catch up with my friends and family in the UK.


Tuesday 17th January

We begun to work on our first project with the performing arts organisation The Sarakasi Trust. The Sarakasi Trust focuses on the development of perfomring arts including acrobatics, dance and music to encourage creativity and community engagement in Kenya. Our focus is working with the outreach projects to various disadvantaged areas across the city with national teachers. Today we began the day in the headquarters of Sarakasi which is a beautiful dome – perfect for circus! It used to be an Indian cinema.

We were up at 6 and left at 7 after our trusty porridge and coffee. We walked towards a Mettatu (city bus – usually with loud music and very crowded) and sat in a lot of traffic (this is very usual for Nairobi unfortunately). We arrived just before 9 to meet the acrobats and join in with their rigorous but fun training session.

We ate lunch in a local shack, a solid diet of ugali (maize flour and water squished into a lump – it is better than it sounds!), beans and veg.

Then it was time to deliver our first outreach session in Korogocho slum – one of the largest neighbourhoods of Nairobi.


The workshops are part of a festival ran by Sarakasi called ‘Amani Lazima’ meaning ‘Peace is a must’. The festival will culminate on Wednesday with our show and theirs…watch this space!

On the wall outside the community centre where we delivered the session it was written;

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can and

wisdom to know the difference.”

The young people were excited to see us and very receptive to everything we had to offer. Today we played lots of team games and did a fun but physical warm up lead by Nicholas. We then split off into groups; Mira and Nicholas taught ball juggling and Chez and I taught my all time favourite… HULA HOOP! I was so pleased that all the boys took to the hoop with the same excitement and passion as I have for a plastic circle! Yes!

We finished the workshop with a ‘show and tell’ which consolidated what they had learnt and gave each person a chance to perform if they chose to (which they all did). This is a great way to encourage their self-confidence in a safe environment.

Just before leaving they gathered in a circle to pray. I was already blown away by their graciousness and then a prayer containing this…

“Thank you God for giving us this time, space, these teachers and the and opportunity to do our practice.”

A stark reminder to be greatful for what we do have.

A two hour trek back home and eat and rest.


Wednesday 18th January

Another 6am start this morning as we traverse the traffic towards the Sarakasi dome. Today we lead the training for the Acrobats! Chez lead yoga for half an hour, followed by a kickboxing warm up with me and conditioning with Abi – we successfully achieved our goal – we made them sweat and stretch!

We then offered out mini workshops of the various skills we have within the group – juggling, Chinese pole, yoga, stretching and massage, aerial, poi, silks and some acro!

Ugali, beans and veg power!!!!!

We went back to Korogocho to deliver another workshop – today Abi and Nicholas taught rings and Mira and I taught acro. Again it was a successful workshop encouraging creativity, play, focus and the all important team work!


On our way home, after the prayer, we were taken on a mini tour of some parts of the slum. To our amazement and surprise we were taken to a farm! In the slum! There were about 5 cows, lots of chickens and some rabbits (for eating – sorry). They were really proud of their farm and rightly so! I was struck by the resourcefulness and ingenuity to make a space for animals, to feed and maintain them for the betterment and nourishment of the community.

Washika, the founder and head of Sarakasi (and an absolutely amazing man!) took us on another stop – the house of an acrobat who was killed two weeks ago in a car accident. Washika stops by often to show his support from the community of acrobats to the grieving family. We entered a shack with 5 women and 8 babies and children. They were very calm and quiet, from an outsider’s perspective it looked as though they were really pulling together as a community and an extended family to support each other in this time and in all times I believe. We paid our respects to the family and chatted for a while. We also met the deceased acrobat’s 3 week old baby boy. Heart-breaking.

The Kenyan view of death seems to be less morbid than ours. They seem to view it as an inevitability (“what can you do about it?”) and I think it is more common here so people are more used to it for better or for worse. Also many people are religious, one person I spoke to spoke of God’s will and plan which we may not understand. There is a calm acceptance.


Thursday 19th January

A small lie-in! A chance for some Mysore Yoga practice with Chez. My body needed that.

Today we had an opportunity to meet as a team. This is so important for the smooth running of the project. We had a sharing circle to express in a safe space our thoughts and feelings. We discussed priorities, curriculum, team roles, what we will teach at a train the trainers workshop we are delivering on Monday and much more. We also had some time for self practice – also an important part of a PWB project.


Friday 20th January

Time to practice, refine and improve our show!

We went to a different project today in a neighbourhood called Haruma, it is an estate of Nairobi.

The neighbourhood has an amazing atmosphere with high-rise buildings which somehow look out of place, decorated with colourful laundry drying in the wind reminiscent of prayer flags.

The young people immediately taught us a specific beat on the drum and beautifully guided us to become their band for a traditional African dance and song! It was spectacular! Such high energy, such smiles, so uplifting! Celebration, community, heartwarming.

In appropriate response to their dancing I preformed a little hoop dance to their African drumming. It was so much fun and happily received. We then had to change our original workshop plans due to a lack of space so we played group games, theatre games, physical games and silly games! Fun. Joy. Play.


We were told to finish early because the Grandmothers of the community had a something for us…

We entered an old marquee next door to find 15 grandmothers (average age 40 something!) dancing and singing wearing the traditional cloth of their community. They donned us in the same cloth. A metaphor. It was such a spectacular experience. A welcome song and dance, not for us but with us. Here is a rough translation of the singing and dancing;

“You are welcome in our community.

Let us sing together

Let us dance together

Let us laugh together.

You can sleep anywhere here, because you are welcome with us.

Amani – Peace.”

It was so powerful and special to be invited and honoured into their close knit community in this way. I was struck by the beauty and warmth of their hospitality and the manner in which they welcomed the stranger, using song and dance to rejoice.

Home time. Food. A Skype with my family on a Friday night and…. Sleep.


Saturday 20th January

Another early start. We taught at the Sarakasi Saturday programme for young people at the dome. Chez ran a theatre workshop focusing on awareness of space, audience and your fellow performer. Abi ran some conditioning and Mira lead some tumbling. We then had breakout sessions, Nicholas lead juggling, I lead hoop and Abi lead aerial.


Ugali, beans, veg! Power…and some err gas!

We went back to Haruma to perform our show! It was quite crazy – over 200 in our audience in a square outside the community centre. We shared our stage with a motorbike just for an added challenge!


As there were so many children it was difficult to offer workshops for such numbers so we played musical statues and the good old hockey kockey until we were rudely and unexpectedly interrupted by….a man on a camel with tinsel on it’s head. As you do.

The children were entertained by us and also intrigued by us. Especially our hair as it is so different to theirs. They took to touching, stroking and eventually pulling our hair in curiosity and wonder. That was when we knew it was time to leave. I am equally as fascinated by the incredible array of amazing hair styles available in Africa! I may come back with exciting braids and a blond mohican weave!

A positive and productive week! We decided to treat ourselves to an Ethiopian dinner. It was very bizarre to end the day eating in a smart restaurant coming from the dusty estate of Haruma. This is the diversity of Nairobi and possibly all cities. The gap between the richer and the poorer. The classes. The struggle for employment, survival and ultimatley fullfillment.  I feel so grateful and lucky to be able to be here to volunteer, to drink in this culture and share my knowledge and experience where appropriate. To give back, and as we say in PWB, the more you give you the more you get. I must have given a lot this week!


Sunday 21st January

Today is blog writing day and a day off! I am sitting in the garden of Shalom House, writing to the beautiful and lively surround sound of the various Churches around me. Chanting, singing and praising. It sounds like a happy affair of community and sanctity in the sanctuary.

A time to recharge the batteries ready for another week of PWB Kenya!

Amani Lazima.

Peace is a must.




Performers Without Borders: Nicaragua

January 18, 2017

Hello from the lovely beach town of Las Peñitas! We are nearing the end of boot camp, and preparing to move inland to start performing and teaching. It’s been an amazing and productive start for our team so far.

We are a group of 5, and have been working hard creating a 45 minute show, practicing teaching, making the show, doing team building exercises, and rehearsing the show. 🙂 Plus laughing and joking!

We have breakfast at 7:15 and start work around 8. Then we break at noon for lunch,  followed by an afternoon session from 1:30 to around 5:30, leaving just enough time to jump in the ocean and watch the sunset! We’re all taking turns cooking and cleaning, and we’ve been eating well. Muchos beans, rice, and veggies.

Our accommodations is a wonderful hostel called Rigo’s guest house. Rigo has been kind enough to give us the full run of the place for practicing, eating and such. We share the place with a few occasional guests, and a super cute kitten, puppy and chicken. Sometimes we have to stop juggling as the kitten foolishly walks underneath our flying clubs. Sometimes we have to stop when it starts playing with the puppy or chasing the chicken just because we can’t look away from the cuteness. But we always get back to practice quick enough. Creating a whole show and polishing it up is hard work! But also super fun. We have mostly made all new group acts!

One afternoon we had the opportunity to go for a boat ride up the estuary, so we stopped at 3:00, and went adventuring. We traveled with the tide deep up into a mangrove thicket where beautiful birds and radiant green iguanas resided. We stopped at an isolated beach spot on the way back where a sea turtle hatching center was. We even helped release the baby turtles into the ocean! Go little guys, go!

The theme of the show is about 5 travelers arriving in a foreign land. (where did we get that idea?) We are overwhelmed by the sites, sounds and mosquitos! It adds quite the comedic element while still allowing us to incorporate lots of circus skills. I’m amazed at how talented this group is, easy to work with and how much we’ve got done so far. We had our first full dress rehearsal today and the show is awesome! We can’t wait to perform it! Just a day or two away now!

Tomorrow we head to El Berrinche for a few days. A circus arts festival dedicated to promoting environmental awareness. Then we head to the city of León for about a month where the real work begins. Loads of teaching and shows, partnering with local organisations and enriching the lives of so many children! This first part has been amazing and productive and we are all excited to start working/playing with the kids, after all, laughter is the best medicine!

Stay tuned for more updates from team Nicaragua. Hasta pronto!


January 16, 2017

Team India is on tour and ready for their first update to the rest of the world.

We all met up in Goa on the 5th of January, except for Daniel who was already in our bootcamp location, Gokarna. Luckily nobody had big problems arriving there and we got to meet each other in “real life” for the first time. So far it is a great experience to be part of team India. It turns out to be a colourful mix with a lot of energy, fun, puns and delight, but also a lot of motivation to discuss and develop. 

On the 6th of January we travelled south to our bootcamp location, the Namaste Yoga Farm on Kudle beach in Gokarna. Taking an Indian train for the first time was quite interesting. Did you ever stick your head out the open door of a running train, while travelling through endless forests of palmtrees, mountains and the sea right at hand?


The next adventure was getting our luggage (loads and loads of donated circus equipment) from the train station to the hostel, strapped on the roofs of two taxis honking constantly and having to stop for cows on the street. 

The place itself is amazing. We have a 5 minutes walk down to a wonderful beach and a hut in a garden with strange birds, monkeys and cows. There is also a yoga space in which we can do all our work.

Outside our window there lives a really pretty black and yellow bird, which constantly crashes in the window every two minutes or so. he does not seem to get hurt by it, but we didn’t quite figure out the purpose yet… 

Another adventure with the animals here was when Jamie was training head balance in the garden today. She was joined by a group of monkeys, apparently really curious what she was doing.

Our daily routine is made of yoga lessons in the morning, sharing teaching advice, games and circus skills, working on the show, learning some clowning, getting prepared for tour, swimming in the sea, becoming ill and recovering from it, walking to town to get food, fighting mosquitoes, do circus, eat the marvellous food and, in between, having a lot of fun.  

We also checked over all the donated circus equipment and the result is amazing: About 200 juggling balls, a whole suitcase of clubs, loads of LED pois, dozens of hoops, clowns noses, a unicycle, diabolos, acromats and all we could wish for. A big THANK YOU to all the generous sponsors! 

Bootcamp is scheduled until the 22nd of january, with a  fabulous show on the beach on the 20th Jan. Then it will be time for our first project in Ahmedabad.

So, team India started it’s tour and we are up for more! 

Jambo! Team Kenya Bootcamp 2017

January 14, 2017

It’s been Bootcamp time.

We’ve been in Diani Beach on the East coast of Kenya.

A team of five performing artists have met and shared ideas, games and meals.

There have been visits from Baboons in the kitchen, that was quite scary.

There are groups of monkeys jumping around the trees and there’s even a collection of Collabus monkey, these are endangered and its been special to share an environment with them.

On our afternoon off we sailed out to the sand banks and snorkelled among the coral, seeing some very spindly legged big birds waiting to catch their fish breakfast.

“You are such a beautiful bird,

Waiting for the fish.

Wing-span so wide,

In clouds you glide,

Sweeping eyes on rising tide”

Each morning we share a breakfast, Mira always cuts up the fruit. We scrub our laundry in a green bucket. We learn a shared gestural language to use a concensus decision making process. We teach each other our favourite games and marvel at how rules differ from country to country.

Jess runs along the beach.

Nicholas juggles everywhere he goes.

Abi rigs silks in a tree.

Mira is upside down a lot.

We have created a circus show based on the sunshine rising as a metaphor for lighter, better, more positive days to come. Our moral is that we need team work to suceed. Our bootcamp time has been incredibly supportive to remind us of the basics we need to survive;









We performed the debut of our show to 300 students at the local school. Under the shade of the fig tree, in between the concrete buildings we played the space as the children brought chairs to sit among. It was incredibly well received and a total joy to test out the first version of the show and get some great feedback throughout. They laughed, we laughed, we all connected, the teachers loved it as much as the children, we leaned the flow of the show and how to support each other to play it out. Here’s the facepaint we put on each other before the show, before the sweat dripped it down our faces.

I am left with a deep rooted feeling that this bootcamp time was here to for us to bond and nurture our bodies, ready for the teaching project to come. We are indeedily well and truly bootcamped!

Having written our initial curriculum and learn some Swahili we are ready to travel west back to Nairobi and begin our teaching adventure.

Asante Sana,

Big peace and respect for the work, Chez*cxx

Our 2017 Teams are GO! and here they are….

January 3, 2017

TEAM INDIA, led by Avi Chertok, USA.

Avi is a circus and fire artist and teacher with company Pyrotechniq, specialising in staff. Avi is also a certified firewalking instructor, and enjoys clowning (not at the same time). He lives in Chicago and toured with PWB Team India in 2015. He is back for more this year and we are very happy to have him leading Team India! you can find out more about what he does by visiting Avi’s facebook page ‘Avi’s Imaginiarium’

Meike Schnapper, Germany, 19.  Meike’s home is in circus. She wants to give the same opportunity to other people, for it fills her life with so much laughter. She wants to use circus to change the world and believes that through this art we can teach self respect, awareness and hope; without competition and oppression. She hopes to transport these values through circus, especially at this time of needing a free society.

Grant Jensen, 26, Australia. A man who has passion for poi and delights in dance, as well as being proficient in many other circus arts. He combines his love of circus into his day job teaching science at secondary level. His favourite part of teaching is seeing a child progress and he says “they develop a sense of achievement and self-confidence from working through circus and they nearly always smile regardless of whether they can do a particular trick. I’d like to have the opportunity to spread that joy to kids who face some pretty big challenges and hopefully give them some of their childhood joy back”

Lynne Lee, USA, 25.  Ling Lee is a human bubble of energy and colour. Hailing from San Francisco, one of her main joys is to watch the fog eat the city. She has been performing in theatres around the bay area all her life, and doing circus arts for the last 4 years. She loves getting wacky with dance and storytelling. Her current favourite props to dance with are fans, buugeng, and rope dart.
She wants to share her art on a global level. To support underprivileged communities by sharing time together and exchanging skills and passions. To make connections that will last and make an impact on both parties.

Benjamin Bergeron, France, 36.  Ben is very excited to be part is the team as it combines his two passions; Travel and Circus! He has been teaching circus for years as well as performing his amazing skills! Imagine 5 ball juggling, 4 club juggling, devil sticks and cigar boxes, unicycle, slack line AND longline. PWB India is in for a treat with this huge range of brilliance.

Daniel Griffiths, UK, 26.  Daniel is totally dedicated to circus art as a tool for social change. He has experienced himself the powers of circus and in turn shares his experience and skill with all sorts of youth and community groups. He loves the Indian culture and to combine this with teaching circus art would be something he will never forget.  He has also spent the last few months cycling from Wales to Turkey, as a charity fundraiser!

Jamie Mulligan Smith, USA, 41.  Combining over twenty years of performance experience in theatre, dance, fire arts, and original spoken word with twenty years of experience working with children, Jamie is on board with her grassroots diplomacy and global peace making to offer her vast experience and to bring her dream of connecting with PWB a reality.

Johny Douglas, USA, 23.  A self confessed spinner of all the things! Johny has a strong love for growth, performance, and puns. He wants to help people and believes that giving back what he has loved is the best way to do this. Having been inspired by the work through PWB he is now part of the crew that wants to spread smiles and share joy.

Rowan Thompson, 25 from UK.  Playing with circus toys is Rowan’s favourite thing to do. She loves to teach, perform and play games; anywhere, for anyone, at any time of day, in the hope of bringing a smile and infecting others with the circus bug. It is her aspiration to share the joy of circus with the world, particularly with those that most in need. She is really looking forward to creating and touring a show with an international team of performers. Rowan says “I believe that together we can bring joy and hope and make children believe that their impossible can happen”.

TEAM KENYA, led by Abi Cooper, UK.  

Abi first toured with PWB in India in 2013, following on in 2014 by leading a tour there. In 2015 and 2016 she researched and then led the first tour to Kenya and she is back for more in 2017! Abi has just finished her third season working in Chaplins Circus in the UK as an aerial artist and seems to have an endless supply of energy!

Mira Unde, 26, Sweden.  Mira is a socialy aware chinese pole artist and acrobat who after graduating from circus school has spent her last ten months working full time in a NGO helping refugee families and homeless women.
In June this year Mira toured with Clowns Without Borders (Sweden) to Greece.Mira says ” I’m so, very much, ready to blend the social side of me together with circus artist me. I think i have lots of experience from all the parts that are important to this project, I think it might just be perfect for me’
Jess Herman, UK, 33.  Jess is a power house of a performer and community/youth worker. Having been on a PWB project before she’s back and raring for more as she brings her impressive hula hoop skills and positivity to team Kenya. She has a natural flare for sharing joy and we are very excited to welcome her back for more work this time in Africa. She has been working with young people and sexual health in Bristol and is excited to continue sharing this important knowledge around the world.

Francesca Chez Theatre Dunford, UK, 29.  Chez first volunteered with PWB in 2013, tour co-ordinated India in 2015 and has since been supporting the running of the charity in the office. She is heading out to Kenya to continue teaching clown, dance, music and yoga. She is excited to be performing for young people in orphanages, hospitals and slums in Kenya. Chez says “I can’t wait to get back out on a project and share what I’ve been learning. I am well excited to be involved in the new connections in Africa and continue offering outreach around the globe by sharing play and joy, it’s a human right! Especially in these turbulent times of change we must unite and remain positive”.
Nicholas Pegram, USA 24.  Like Peter Pan Nicolas was never a fan of the thought of growing older. He thought that growing up meant forfeiting ones imagination. He knows now that through circus this idea is untrue. He seeks to spread this life philosophy to as many children as possible, through drumming, dancing, fire performing, fooling, juggling, loving life and the magic of imagination. He likes to find balance as much as he can on ball, rope, rola bola, or simply the palm of his hand (or face).

TEAM NICARAGUA, led by Beatrix Vicente.

Bea has been part of PWB tours for the last 2 years in both Nicaragua and India and returns to make it a triple dose of PWB fun in 2017! Bea is a super dooper hula hooper based in Brighton, UK. She is founder of the Hoop O Clock movement which started in the UK and has spread to Australia. Whilst not hula-hooping she is a flight attendant and considers herself ‘Spanglish’. Welcome aboard Bea!

Esther Fuge, 25, UK.  Esther initially studied as a contemporary dancer at The Place in London. Following her sense of adventure she started working as a circus artists with NoFitState during their two year tour of Open House. This stirred a passion for community work which led her to set up her own projects including Wales first hoop convention; Whoopi and a community performance company called Splatch.
For the last few years she’s been reassessing her career choice. She says “It’s been projects like PWB that I’ve been dreaming up and envisioning how it could happen. I know I will continue to work on community performance based projects and feel that an experience like this would inform and shape my personal and professional projects which in turn would affect the communities I would be working with, especially on an international level”.

Sam Goodburn, 22, UK.  This young circus artist has won multiple awards for circus including the British Freestyle Unicycle Championship and the overall winner of the search for the UK’s Best Circus Act. He has performed throughout Asia and the Middle East,at Glastonbury Festival and with NoFit State Circus and to audiences as big as 15,000 as a clown on a BBC arena tour.  After seeing first hand the effect circus can have on a under-confident, shy kids, he wants to spread the seeds for more children and use the main tool he’s got to have a positive impact on peoples lives. He wants to rediscover himself after doing one too many corporate gig. Sam says “I’m only 22 and I hope to have a long career in circus and I want to make sure I continue my journey with the right approach”.

Ali Wilson,32,UK/NZ. Ali has been performing and teaching circus skills since 2013. Specialising in hula hoops he has a passion for breaking down technique and helping people find their own inner performer. He has lived in 4 different continents, is a total travel addict and hopes he can bring his experience of working in developing countries to the PWB tour. Ali says of joining PWB Nicaragua: “This is literally the perfect synergy for the two great pillars in my life”

Eli March, 29, USA.  Professional juggler Eli March is known for his fluid style, originality, and clean execution. Eli produces and directs the theatrical LED and Black-light troupe Circus Luminescence and is a highly regarded teacher and performer at numerous festivals.
Eli truly believes that “laughter is the best medicine…The laughter and smiles of the children is a currency I would like to be rich in”