Zip Zap dates back to 1992 when Laurence Esteve accompanied Brent van Rensburg on a visit to her fiancé's hometown. Brent and Laurence, both professional trapeze artists, set up a trapeze at the V&A Waterfront offering the curious and not too faint at heart a pay-as-you-go swing. Inspired by the phenomenal response, the idea of starting a circus school in Cape Town began to take root.
Soon the idea began to grow into something concrete. Combining Laurence's background in business and Brent's affinity for teaching, the two set out with nothing more than their dream to start a circus school and the desire to make it come true. But the couple recognized a circus school in South Africa had the potential to go beyond the basic training of circus skills. The trust, commitment and teamwork required for circus could help foster social change in South Africa. From this, the school's orientation and objectives became self-evident: entertaining audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds and enhancing the lives of young people who would otherwise never have been exposed to the circus arts – and this open to all children free of charge. The circus school, initially called Dare to Dream, began to take form as workshops in Township schools teaching trapeze, trampoline, floor acrobatics, and circus comedy routines. From these workshops Laurence and Brent developed a base strong enough to stage a circus show and the circus school evolved from there. Since their first Grahamstown Festival performance in 1994, the circus has dazzled audiences in shows throughout Cape Town, as well as abroad for various festivals in Denmark, France, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and the United States.
The results of the skills learned have become evident. Some of the older students have turned professional and are working in Europe, America and South Africa, some form part of teaching team and the next batch of performers is currently training to enter the professional circus next year. The techniques and professionalism acquired through circus training have landed Zip Zap performers roles in Capetown's growing film industry in such areas as stunt work, TV appearances, and commercials. Additionally, a group of older performers have acquired such trade skills as welding and carpentry through carrying out in-house maintenance work as well as building and repairing equipment. This knowledge has subsequently translated into outside rigging contracts. In short, the school is not only providing a venue for fun, it is equipping South African youth with a marketable set of skills from which they can enter the work force. The results are real.