Cirque Lanka – a European circus spiced with Sri Lankan dances

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Cirque is a travelling circus from Czechs Republic that partnered with a local dance troupe performing a fusion of acrobatics, fire dancing and traditional dances at the Viharamahadevi Open Air Theater.

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Saturday, 28th January was their last performance. I would have missed the opportunity if not for a friend who quickly got us tickets. The visitors were entertained with unique performances based on Ramayana story and a show they called CirCODE.

“This project is definitely something new. It grows organically through two different cultures, it is a fusion of work of two different continents. It is really big experience and challenge for both Czechs and Sri Lankan partners” explained the founder of Cirque Lanka, Jakub Vedral. The stage play seems to portray the fire within us – like the DNA – the passion which is usually hidden, but is responsible for child-like ima­gination. According to Jakub the performance was attempting to wake up this excitement in both children and adults.

The show opened with a curious arracirque-5ngement of bamboo sticks that was meticulously and artfully balanced and had the acrobats luring in the dark edges till the clever and witty artisan decided to plant his ‘Yellow-Ducky’ (squeaky toy) on the end of a bamboo and pull a trick. To everyone’s great laughter the bamboos collapsed into a pile. Having had a taste of European humour and drama, the curiosity was set alight. I geared to enjoy the deep meaning behind the performance. Every now and then it was fused tastefully with traditional dances. A girl on stilts with a ghost-white face would peak from behind the curtains to poke fun. She received loud applause when she danced to tune and hopped on those tall, tall legs. Throughout the show never once faltering she pounced on nearly every performance with witty pranks.

The strongest acrobats were the male and female artists who performed various tricks with fire. They tossed flaming metal rigs as if they were made of feathers. So strong were their arms that they could balance whilst rotating them furiously. The flames flapped and licked all the while. The prankster on stilts poked fun on these artists too, but managed to get away without getting her fingers burnt.

The trapeze artists wound themselves gracefully in the silk cloth and elevated their bodies 10 -20 feet high to the awe of the crowd. And to the oos and aahs of a spellbound audience the artistes from their lofty perchcirque-2 performed many tricks – mingling in each other’s bodies, cascading in many a twists and holding out amazing poses to the thrill of everyone. The woman wore a white leotard and matching pale leggings, a red bodice and flaming ruffles to go along. She danced with two male artists with fantastic physique donned in Alibaba pants in shades of blue and ochre. Using the power of their limbs, stomach and good poise they performed gracefully to the astonishment of the crowd. Local dancers donned in traditional masks and colourful costumes danced brilliantly to the fusion music setting the finale to a mood of high spirits. The fire dances tossed fire and blew tongues of flame into the air and the stalker on stilts danced a Bollywood jig. Finally the duo of acrobats launched themselves on a wire rope and sailed away into the night sky to the drowning applause from the crowds.

Cirque Lanka brought a wonderful opportunity for people of two very different cultures to connect together through a fusion of art, dance and acrobatics. Their last dance was certainly a night to remember.

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