In the limelight: Sabine van Rensburg talks about Zip Zap’s acrobatic art film, MOYA, premiering April 2021

Who: Sabine van Rensburg of Zip Zap Circus, Cape Town, South Africa
Instagram: @circusbean  
Zip Zap’s MOYA: Zip Zap’s acrobatic film MOYA – streaming via Quicket – April 24-25, 2021

Circus artist, Sabine van Rensburg never harboured ideas of running away to join the circus as she grew up, in the ambit of a circus – Zip Zap Circus in Cape Town, South Africa. Zip Zap was established in 1992, by Sabine’s parents- Brent van Rensburg and Laurence Estève (born in France). By the age of six, Sabine was on the road, performing with Zip Zap. Sabine – who speaks French- thanks to her French heritage from her mom- left the Mother City in 2015- to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montréal. Her sojourn in Canada was halted by Covid and she returned to Cape Town, in January this year [2021] and immersed herself in choreographing, scripting and directing Zip Zap’s acrobatic film MOYA.

The Cape Robyn: How long did you study at Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montréal and when did you return to Cape Town?

Sabine van Rensburg: I left Cape Town in 2015. I studied for three years at Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montréal. I graduated in 2018 and then toured and performed all over the world with the company, Les 7 Doigts de la Main. The 7 Fingers is the English name of this contemporary circus company based in Montréal, Canada. It was founded by seven artists who now direct the company’s shows. There are several different touring shows, all of which unfortunately were halted due to Covid. My contract was halted due to Covid.  I returned to Cape Town on January 2, 2021.

The Cape Robyn: How did MOYA come about? Please tell us about the genesis of the film?

Sabine van Rensburg: Initially, I returned to Zip Zap with two fellow circus artists and our intention was to teach the youth outreach programmes, however due to Covid regulations, Zip Zap had to pause many of its youth programmes and relied on a virtual schooling system. This resulted in us having an availability to focus our attention on Zip Zap’s professional performing group. This group consists of the artists that are the most experienced and work full time with Zip Zap. They artists were working on their new show, but it was cancelled due to lockdown. From there we had the idea that we’d like to help showcase these artists who were unable to perform live. The conceptual approach was a combined effort from crew in Montréal crew and Zip Zap artists. They have such creative minds. We just harnessed their energy. We were also extremely inspired by the natural landscapes that Cape Town has to offer, and the physical performances come to life in such bold context. 

The Cape Robyn: Moya pops up in different languages. How did the title come about?

Sabine van Rensburg: Moya means spirit. This film captures the soul of these eight artists. It is a reflection of their culturally rich and diverse South African experience. 

The Cape Robyn: Moya is very much about circus artists in Cape Town, in Africa. You must have been very conscious of the shift from Montréal, back to Cape Town. How has that manifested in your input on MOYA?

Sabine van Rensburg:  Absolutely. We really took advantage of the fact that we had access to all these epic backdrops and ensured that our choreography and storyline traversed all these environments in a logical manner.   For MOYA, the film, I feel privileged to have been the medium between the performer and the viewer and I am beyond excited to share the fruit of our labour with the world.

The Cape Robyn: What did you bring back with you from your time in Canada – which is different to what you grew up with in South Africa, in terms of circus theatre/arts?

Sabine van Rensburg: Tools to facilitate the creation process- I feel like I have accumulated valuable knowledge over the last six years, from performance skills to coaching and choreographing. I am confident in my approach and methods and was extremely privileged to have such a receptive group to test out all my ideas.

The Cape Robyn: Your thoughts about growing up in a circus family and in the extended Zip Zap Circus family in Cape Town?

Sabine van Rensburg:  Zip Zap is without a doubt my family. It is a safe space where students can be unapologetically themselves. The authenticity amongst peers and the positive energy in a daily basis are just a few of the reasons why I feel lucky to be a part of this chosen family. As a child I felt protected and cared for by the older kids, and now, I get to return the love by passing on circus knowledge and any other skills possible.

The Cape Robyn: Your areas of expertise are – aerial silks, Chinese Pole and duo trapeze. How old were you when you started? What is your earliest memory of performing?

Sabine van Rensburg: My first time on stage? I must have been about four year’s old- standing on my dad’s hand at the end of the show. My first performance that I can remember was a regional tour in Durban when I was six years old. 

TheCapeRobyn: What is next for you and Zip Zap?

Sabine van Rensburg: Who knows! One of the most beautiful things about the circus lifestyle is that anything is possible. I’ll follow what I’m inspired by and what feels right. I’d love to return on tour with the 7 Fingers -if Covid permits this to happen. As for Zip Zap, when there is a holiday I get I hop on a flight home to come teach and create with the talented students. I could consider myself a circus nomad but with solid roots in Cape Town and Montréal.

Circus artist, Sabine van Rensburg. See her in action on instagram @circusbean. Supplied.

Sabine van Rensburg grew up in the circus, with the circus – Zip Zap Circus- founded by her parents, Brent van Rensburg – a South African and Laurence Estève who was born in France. Sabine left SA in 2015 to study at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montréal. In January 2021, she returned to Cape Town when her touring contract with Les 7 Doigts de la Main– a theatrical circus company – was put on pause due to Covid.

Related coverage: and