Portia Kewana, an inspiring woman who has toured the world with her own circus act.When Nonkosi Mbula started working as a housekeeper for Zip Zap founder Brent van Rensburg 20 years ago, she never dreamt that her daughter Portia would one day have a circus act of her own and tour the globe with it!
Portia, now 29, was only ten years old when she first set foot in the Zip Zap Dome. She was mesmerised by the trapeze artists and jugglers, “I couldn’t believe that it was possible for children to do such amazing things. It was a magical experience to see the performers train.”
Kewana jumped at the opportunity when van Rensburg, asked her if she wanted to join the school, and so her journey started with basic training on a trampoline.
From the word go, Portia gave it her all, striving to realise her dream of becoming a star. “We were all amazed at the speed that Portia was progressing,” remembers van Rensburg.
After only a year, with hard work and dedication, Portia, then eleven, worked on her own act called ‘Poupée.’ This act was a combination of comedy and acrobatic movements. It was a crowd pleaser. After the success of this act, Kewana went into aerial work with first a single trapeze act, then a triple trapeze act and finally settled on a double trapeze cradle act with a female catcher. It was this act that gave her the opportunity to show the world her talent and she remembers the excitement seeping through every inch of her body when she visited the Netherlands for the first time in 2006. “The experience was exhilarating, I never dreamt that I would have this exposure to tour the world with Zip Zap that first day I entered the dome,” adds Kewana who performed professionally in Germany and the USA after her first international appearance in Holland.
When Kewana turned 18, she challenged herself to learn a new skill and enrolled to study fashion design. “Sewing did not come to me as naturally as performing in front of a large audience! I was however determined to make a success of it.” Once she mastered the skill of sewing, Kewana was appointed as costume maker for Zip Zap. Today she passes on her knowledge to younger ones and her own daughter who she brings along to Zip Zap, just as she did as a young girl with her mother.
“Portia is such an inspiring young lady,” says van Rensburg, “She has taught us all so much about having the courage to pursue your dreams, and to continually challenge yourself to learn new skills.”