The Zappers programme is aimed at identifying and nurturing talent within existing Zip Zap programmes.

The programme focuses on imparting high-level circus expertise to youth with exceptional talent to create new acts and shows, using Zip Zap expertise, and a pool of international visiting artists. The programme targets youth between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. Zappers offers this small group, who have been identified as committed, dedicated and with exceptional potential, the opportunity of intensive training and performance opportunities. The specific aim of this programme is to develop a core group of youth performers with advanced levels of circus skills. We encourage Zappers students to apply for the Dare2Dream vocational programme or join the MOYA professional group, with our focus being on preparing them for this transition.

Youth Programme - Zappers
Youth Programme - Zappers

Impact

Zappers students are encouraged to perform in 10 shows a year, giving them maximum stage time and subsequently growing their confidence. Their intensive training schedule of 10 hours per week means that they accelerate their performance ability and hone their specialties. Students all display improvements in pro-social behaviour due to the teamwork required.

The Zappers programme started later than scheduled, on 16 March 2021, as a direct result of COVID-19 restrictions, with the country being on risk-adjusted Level 3 until 28 February 2021. The planned schedule was interrupted, and the programme was suspended with the imposition of adjusted risk Level 3 effective 16 June 2021, followed by adjusted risk Level 4 effective 28 June 2021. The programme recommenced on 14 August 2021. When the programme resumed, participants were able to train as an intact group again, maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols under the supervision of the instructors. The effects of the pandemic also impacted negatively on consistent attendance at the programme throughout the year. There was also a marked drop-out rate, with the number of participants decreasing from 29 at the start of the programme year to 20 at the end of the year. Despite the demands of school, extra-mural activities and family responsibilities the programme maintained an attendance rate of 64% and retention rate of 83%. Both of these measures support the therapeutic value of circus to help the participants cope with the restrictions, feelings of isolation and anxiety experienced during the pandemic. It was also evidence of the perseverance of the participants who remained, and an illustration of the passion for their individual skills.

Beneficiaries

Sessions

Instructors

Audience members at Match in Africa #6

Sponsors

A Shining Star

Athule Mshudulu

Athule Mshudulu is an 18-year-old, Grade 11 learner. She first encountered Zip Zap in 2015 when she joined the Ibhongolwethu programme. Her friends were initially not supportive, believing that circus was not real – until they saw pictures of her! Athule loves performing on stage and having support and teamwork – which she finds at Zip Zap – but she admits that creating acts and physical training is not always easy for her. The circus discipline she is best at is aerial, specifically lyra and scarf. Her best memory is that of performing at Match in Africa 6 at the Cape Town Stadium in 2020, and sharing the stage with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Athule has a big heart, and this was recognised when she was awarded the Fellowship Award at the 2021 Show & Tell performance, for being a shining example of the Zip Zap values!

“Zip Zap changed my life – I was a shy kid, I couldn’t do anything, I was always insecure. ZZ made me brave and believe that even if things are hard, I can still do it.”

– Athule

For more information on how to join one of our programmes, email youth@zip-zap.co.za

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