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.
The Zappers programme provided a conducive space for a small group of highly skilled participants, totalling 24, to participate in intensive structured physical and technical training in their chosen circus disciplines, through 61 training sessions during the 2022 programme year. Physical assessments helped instructors to assess the fitness levels, progress and capabilities of the participants to ensure minimum standards were met, and also ensured effective programme content to meet programme objectives. More than 85% of participants displayed overall improvement in physical ability, which further demonstrated the determination of participants. They committed to 3 intensive training sessions per week to grow their abilities and hone their artistry. This was an indication of their dedication, commitment and perseverance, especially when having to juggle the demands of academics, extra-mural activities and family responsibilities. The majority of participants displayed growing curiosity about circus, and increased their knowledge in this regard to improve their acts.
The Zip Zap values – Accountability, Family, Honesty, Joy, Respect – are the very foundation of all that we do, and these reinforce the importance of constantly improving pro-social behaviours, healthy relationships and strong teamwork within the group. All participants modelled the values and set good examples to other programme participants.
As the participants grew in capabilities, there were corresponding improvements in levels of confidence and enthusiasm, which was visible from their excitement in preparing for performances at events. All Zappers were required to participate in Zip Zap’s annual year-end Programmes Show & Tell event, in which they demonstrated their growing artistic skills, creativity and showmanship. Participants in other Zip Zap programmes view all Zappers as role models, and aspire to following their example when they see these performances. Zappers participants were encouraged to perform in at least 10 Zip Zap shows per year, affording them maximum stage time and subsequently growing their confidence.
This also provided a glimpse of the opportunities available within the circus- and performing arts for participants to consider; for example performing, technical skills, costuming and coaching.
Advanced to Dare2Dream
A Shining Star
Leah Pelander is 16 years old and attends Westerford High School in Rondebosch, Cape Town. She joined Zip Zap’s Beginners programme in 2013, at the age of just 7 years old, and progressed to Simunye in 2016. In 2019 her hard work and dedication were rewarded with an invitation to join Zappers.
Leah is a promising aerialist, specialising in trapeze. She has performed in several Zip Zap Programmes Show & Tell events. However, the 2022 Show & Tell counts among the most memorable as she was recognised with the 2022 Fellowship Award in the Zappers programme, in recognition of being a shining example of the Zip Zap values!
Leah works very hard at perfecting her artistry, and is becoming an accomplished performer. In 2021 she was invited to perform with the professional performers in the production, Journey Returns, at the Artscape Opera House, in collaboration with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
Leah is well-liked and respected among her peers and instructors alike, and her infectious, bubbly personality is a wonderful tonic to inject joy and excitement into any situation!