Circus star to scale new heights
STARRING ROLE: Circus performer Pipi-Ayesha Evans is busy preparing for a 50-day tour of Nepalese schools built by Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust STACEY WOOD 07/04/2011 from:www.stuff.co.nz Pipi-Ayesha Evans is used to being in high places, but performing on the roof of the world will be a new experience for the Wellington circus performer. A stiltwalker, acrobat and trapeze artist of more than 10 years experience, 34-year-old Evans is one of four performers travelling to Nepalese schools this month in association with Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust. The trust built its first school in Khumjung, one of the most inaccessible parts of the Himalayas. This year Khumjung School turns 50 and, to celebrate the milestone, four comic performers led by "clown doctor" Jean-Paul Bell will head out on their Roof of the World tour to visit 25 of the Himalayan Trust schools scattered around Nepal. Bell is well known for taking his physical comedy to war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and East Timor. He believes laughter is important to people in tough environments. "Humour can have an effect similar to an out-of-body experience, where you look down from the position you are in and embrace the absurd and the ridiculous. Comedy in these situations is more like an extreme sport." The four Australians and Kiwis will begin their journey in Kathmandu, where they will prepare and acclimatise ahead of the 50-day journey. They will travel across the country, visiting schools and performing comedy in the morning before running theatre workshops in the afternoon. Evans, a trustee of Wellington Circus Trust, has been performing highwire aerial acts, and strutting on her 1½ metre stilts for more than 10 years. She has performed in Shanghai and Hong Kong before, but never Nepal. "It actually fulfils a number of dreams for me. I've been wanting to go to Nepal for a long time, and the idea of travelling, performing and teaching to fairly under-privileged kids, as well as the most amazing mountains - it's perfect." The Nepalese children will learn juggling skills and magic tricks, as well as how to craft props such as juggling balls. Evans hoped the tour would give them skills they could use to learn a craft, as well as dazzle them with circus tricks.