This post is the latest in the series Kike Calvo’s visual diary as a National Geographic Expert on the Buenos Aires, Rio and Brazil´s Wild Coast National Geographic Explorer. Dreams of the World: One Dream a Time. Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people Kike meets during his travels.
“I love the circus because it enables me to be any character I want to be. I can fly, I can be a magical creature, I can be whoever I chose to when I perform,” said Raphael Souza, a 26-year old instructor at Picolino Circus School who started as a student since an early age. “My dream is to buy a home and that is the reason why I have always worked so hard to master the art of circus. I will fulfill my dream one day.”
Exploring Salvador de Bahia beyond the Pelourinho historic district, we came across The Escola Picolino de Artes do Crico, the first circus school with a strong social mission founded by artists in Brazil.
For about 30 years, the Picolino school has been providing opportunities for children and teenagers from low income neighborhoods to become part of the magic of circus. Functioning as a traditional circus family, joining the circus is far more than an extracurricular activity for kids. Picolino builds community, encourages leadership, teaches discipline, strengthens self-esteem and inspires trust and team work.
Kids join Picolino as young as five years old and usually remain in the circus for many years. While attracting and retaining students is not always easy, those who persevere develop skills that open up professional opportunities within and beyond Picolino.
Funding is also a perennial struggle for Picolino. A storm recently destroyed their main tent and they have been performing on a temporary structure. Yet tenacious as the children and founders are, they launched a fundraising campaign on the day of our visit. Despite any struggles, the show must go on.
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