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Update Number One, Circus with Spice New Delhi, 2014

The Artists.

The artists forefathers are traditional Rajasthani travelling performers, gypsies, nomads. In the past they told stories of their kings through puppetry, song and dance. This generation and their parents are mainly born in New Delhi in the Kathputhli Colony. They have preserved their traditional heritage learning the puppetry, song and dance from Rajasthan, they have also added Punjabi drums known as Dhols to their skill set.

With their drumming skills they can earn quite well at weddings, but this is seasonal work which only happens when the stars, according to Vedic cosmology, are in a good position to be wed.

So you can imagine break times are very colourful. The artists often sing, drum and dance; and are happy to drum on anything.

Aerial skill

The artists are extremely quick to pick up the skills I am teaching them. There is a good cohesion in the group to help one another. There are also three acrobats from the traditional Nutt people; which are also travelling performers from around Mumbai They are all skilled in rope yoga (malkhamb) and are very flexible in splits, back arches and also in the lotus position; they can put their legs in this position during pretty much any pose (for example gazelle descent on the silk, or whilst spinning on the web).

Something which challenged me in the first 2 weeks was the willingness or concept that falling onto concrete is okay. I have taught people with low body awareness that unexpectedly let go; but I have never taught people who are so body aware yet so ready to let go and fall.

Our rehearsals take place within a school for young children, and I see that they, as well as our cast are a lot rougher in their interactions and playing. Hitting one another hard doesn’t seem to be a problem, after one rehearsals two boys were sparring just for fun.

Our cast dances and jumps and does acrobatics on concrete. For aerial we have some mats. After three spectacular falls from the air and many conversations I feel confident that I have convinced our cast that letting go is not an option.

Carly has arrived

Today is Carly’s fourth day in India and she is enjoying herself immensely. The cast has really warmed to her; and I am very happy to have a fellow Australian with whom I can share the experience. She is also bringing a very strong dance technique to the project. Welcome Carly!

Shows

The past two weeks had a focus on skills development and getting to know each other. Today we started creating the show. I am very fortunate to have such a talented cast with so many skills: dance, drumming, acrobatics, solo singing, acting and performing. Check out the circus with spice facebook page for footage of our creation process.

Opening night is on the 1st of February in New Delhi. We would be more than happy to have you in the audience. It is in a beautiful amphitheatre, purpose built by the Kalakar Trust for street performers.

We don’t need to advertise the show. The cast plays their drums through the local streets surrounding the theatre and then all the people from the villages, I am told, will come. New Delhi is a city which sprawls onto surrounding villages. These villages are no longer just on the outskirts of modern Delhi, but also right next to the metro line, modern shopping centres and apartments.

Stay tuned for the next update, and Thank You again for your support we could not have done it without you.