29 February 2008

Afrika Afrika Clip


As a kid I loved going to the circus…I really enjoy theatre… so what were the chances that I would miss a show described as circus-style theatre. Called Afrika Afrika, it has been described as a “kingdom of the traveling entertainers and a paradise for the zest of life”.
There are no animals or clowns in this circus but there are fantastic scenes of mythical creatures and African beasts, evoked through costume. Ostriches bound across the stage and tortoises open out into giant flowers. Though there are a few acts similar to those seen in a traditional circus.

Unbelievable acrobatics, intoxicating rhythms and costumes of exceptional beauty...left me at a loss of words. Fortunately, though photography was prohibited, we were advised that we can download some pictures from their website…
He walked onto the stage like a spider…Feet turned into hands; hands became feet – a rare spectacle only possible within the African tradition of perfect, absolute body control. Huit Huit, the contortionist from Congo, was amazing as he slipped through a tennis racket.

Jean-Claude Belmat, a tissue aerialist with perfect synthesis of strength and body control. He seemed to just float in the air as he slowly spiraled his way up to the dome of the tent and then balanced his body in a horizontal position.

It is not without reason that she has earned the nickname of “snake girl”. She wraps her leg around her head, until her toes are resting under her chin. She then twists her body in a way that her head appears to be resting next to her body leaving one staring in disbelief.

The pole artistes make the audience catch their breath as they effortlessly and elegantly swing back and forth on the poles at top speed or slide up and down, head first while performing dangerous stunts.

Dancers build dizzyingly high human pyramids.

The so-called water man makes 8 bowls dance at the same time and spouts out water like a huge fountain, several meters high. He has the ability to hold five litres of water in his stomach!!! Using pressure, he is able to bring it up, spraying it like a rainstorm.

First six, then eight, then ten balls are simultaneously juggled by the juggler from Addis Ababa. The way he tosses the balls is hardly noticeable until they pick up such a speed that they appear to stand in the air. The human eye simply cannot follow what’s going on.

Lying on their backs, the female artistes swirl tables, vases and furniture around in circles at breakneck speed. Simultaneously and seemingly effortlessly, they juggle heavy furniture with their feet.

There was an 11-member group of basketball players, who darted around on unicycles, blowing whistles, moving to pulsating hip-hop beats. They play a surreal game of basketball on wheels, combining physical prowess and comedy.
While 2 players turn 2 ropes, one of the unicyclist skips in between those 2 ropes…Amazing…

From South Africa comes the loud, forceful rubber boot dancing. This dance originated from the horrific conditions within South Africa’s gold mines during apartheid. With no drainage, the miners were given rubber boots to wear, chained up and forbidden to speak. They developed a language of feet-stamping to communicate and these moves have now blossomed into a dance.
The finale sums up the joie de vivre that is Africa - the energy given off as all the dancers come together is unsurpassable.

27 February 2008


Even on the worst of days...this guy brings a smile to my face...
The first mail i read everyday is the Daily Calvin Strip...

21 February 2008

Romanza – Act 2

(contd from Romanza - Act 1)

The opening of Act 2 is a scene from a cemetery. Vampires skate past as a huge American-style black coffin slowly moves towards the middle of the rink…a creaking sound as it opens slowly…
The body of Dracula, lying horizontally in the air, is slowly lowered into the coffin and the lid closes. Several vampire creatures take off and show a spooky flying ballet…
The scene changes…a group of elegantly dressed ladies with long white dresses and hats seem to be taking a walk... London police men are on patrol, when Mina appears.
Dracula seduces her against the backdrop of heavy metal music. She falls for his charms to a beautiful rendition of “I will always love you” which climaxes with her getting bitten by him.

Forever unforgotten is the secret and tragic relationship of Italian nobleman Romeo and the beautiful Juliet. Against the backdrop of ancient Italian newspapers informing us about the tragic happenings in Verona, where the families of Montague and Capulet live, there is a feast going on in the house of the Capulets. Romeo, dressed up so he would not be recognized catches sight of Juliet and they fall in love and meet secretly after the feast.
A lovely decorated balcony is placed on the ice in front of the stage on which Juliet appears in a red dress to see her secret love, Romeo. But unfortunately their love was ill-fated.
Romeo kills Tybalt, nephew of Countess Capulet, and gets banned. More newspaper headlines tell about the tragic events. Juliet is being forced to marry Count Paris…she swallows a drink which makes her unconscious in order to avoid the marriage. Romeo does not get the information that Juliet is only unconscious and decides to kill himself. After their last kiss he poisons himself and dies. Juliet awakes and realizes what has happened. She takes a dagger and kills herself.
The entire Romeo & Juliet number is staged most romantically and with lovely Italian love songs.

Warnings to resist temptations of the seven deadly sins echo as skaters in Spanish costumes painted with neon colors skate in with things that look like trees and transform them into small bistro tables. The femme fatale appears and starts to make fun of an ugly toreador who has got huge ears and a horrible nose. She pretends to seduce him by stripping for him. With “You can leave your hat on” she takes off one piece of clothes after the other. This scene is fantastic as we can see only the neon colored clothes and tables but no faces. It looks really funny as the clothes that she still wears seem to hover in the darkness.

Next is my other favorite of the show…it revolves around the sins of laziness and gluttony…its about the Passion for chocolate. 8 chorus girls lay down on huge cushions to give in to their addiction to chocolate. Gula, the gluttony, brings in a huge inflated chocolate cake with cream and cherries on the top. The girls start to bite into the pieces of the cake that start to move around on the ice. This number really funny one and the song “Everybody wants a chocolate!” is thrilling! At the end of the number the girls disappear into the huge chocolate cake. And come out again- fat as marshmallow men and hardly able to move any more. The only thing they’re still able to do is to fall down on their cushions, raise their fat legs like a beetle on his back and moan!

The other sins like Avaritia, the greed follow…The girl skaters enter the casino, dressed as illuminated slot machines. The boys are eager to win and try their best when suddenly the projection pictures on the screen indicate that the jackpot has been hit. Everybody starts chasing Greed and his huge bag full of money while the golden coins are falling down like stars.
Next it’s the turn for a card game. Some chorus girls mingle with the players, dressed as playing cards and of course roulette can’t be far behind.
The entire chorus performs like a life-size roulette game in a precision wheel-routine, also doing fast movements and tricky splices. They are dressed either in tight shimmering red or black suits with numbers on their backs and the two center skaters dressed in green as “zero. As soon as the croupier demands the 4-spoked chorus wheel that quickly was formed starts spinning with a principal skating around it in opposite direction as roulette ball. One by one the skaters form a wheel with “Owner of a lonely heart” and the speedy “Round and around and around we go”. Everybody joining the wheel switches on a little spotlight. The way the wheel is completed is most impressive.

Romanza’s last principle number is a beautiful one with everybody dressed elegantly in pure white….

As the show ends one is just left awestruck and wanting more…

15 February 2008

Romanza – Act 1

Last weekend I went to watch an ice skating show…called Romanza from the world famous Holiday on Ice group.

It is a romantic trip through history, telling both happy and tragic tales of passion, emotion and love from through the ages. Amazingly skilful skating from 46 world-class skaters, artistic choreography, exquisite & colorful costumes and lighting and what a use of props! And if that is not enough…there is flying, fire and magic! A truly breathtaking performance

I realized during the show that there was no break in between the various numbers and what I learnt later was that during this show NOT A SINGLE costume change is made in the dressing room! All the changes have to be done right backstage! There’s no time for the skaters to make their way to the dressing room, not because of the distance but because of the required quick changes during the entire show.

The show begins with the creation of the heart…and the chorus team all dressed in black suits with red and green electroluminescent light cords on their bodies, shaped like hearts and in wavy lines skate onto the rink. Wonderful routine with many ice skating tricks!

This is followed by the story of Adam and Eve… Colourful paradise birds and other animals in neon pink enter the ice.
The skating by Adam and Eve was mind blowing…how he just lifts her and turns around in the same place…or when he swings her from her leg…so fast …I was like…if he lets go…she is going to go thrashing across the rink, probably onto the stands…
A huge heart with illuminated veins in red and green is moved forward on the ice. Silently a huge pink tree with apples makes its way to the middle of Garden of Eden, followed by an awesome snake, trying to seduce Eve to pick one of the apples for a bite which she finally does.

This leads us to the next scene about the seven deadly sins - Luxuria, the lust, Invidia, the jealousy, Ira, the anger, Gula, the gluttony, Acedia, the lazyness, Superbia, the pride and Avaritia, the greed. All the skaters personifying the sins were so aptly dressed and again mindblowing skating routines.

Next is the story of Samson & Delilah…The scene starts with a farmers’ dance, performed by the chorus boys with stacked up wood which is set on flame – a technical trick that was really outstanding.
Then there was a routine of a Stone Age gym. The girls exercise with huge rock handles while the boys work out their muscles with weight-lifting on Flintstone-like benches. Very, very cute…
Samson is the popular hero who can withstand any danger but cannot resist the charm of Delilah. He is seduced by Delilah and she chops of his hair which is the source of his strength rendering him completely powerless.
The skater playing Samson (he also plays Ceaser later) was the most energetic skater/dancer…twice he nearly skated off the rink…

Geishas enter the scene, carrying huge red lanterns which are being placed around the ice. Beautiful props creating a very intimate and romantic set….this has to be the famous Japanese story of love and betrayal of Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton…
A bed under a huge pavilion rolls onto the ice and there is a dream sequence where he remembers his wife in USA …so he deserts Madame Butterfly and flees

The next scene is a parade of famous couples in history - Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf…who suddenly freeze as the next couple enters: The frog and the princess and finally a bit drunken, but happy in love, Popeye the sailorman as he tells his beloved, Olive: “I wanna be loved by you”.
They are joined by girls’ in golden dresses and blond wigs, happily jumping: “I’m a barbie girl in a barbie world”. And where there’s Barbie, Ken is not far away. The chorus boys as Kens in fine white jackets with yellow hearts, yellow shirts and black trousers take their Barbies out for an excursion.
Danny and Sandy from Saturday Night fever are next with “You’re the one that I want”, before a Dirty Dancing sequence ends this number with “Time of my life”.
And then one of my favorites…a solo girl in a red dress skating to “The lady in red”…. Superman appears and takes off on an invisible cable, taking his Lois Lane with him.

The last part of the Act 1 begins with a parade of Egyptian girls, beautifully dressed in basketwork dresses, personating Egyptian amphora. Fantastic!
Then the curtain opens again and an enormous Sphinx statue with a black face is being positioned to demonstrate the arrival of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
When she steps down from her throne, she pulls behind her extra long golden train like a never ending waterfall.
Her entire court surrounds her with “Walk like an Egyptian”.
Caesar tries his best to seduce Cleopatra who is not easy to get…and there is a love triangle with Mark Anthony. He says “She drives me crazy” (and this is the same energetic fellow who played Samson earlier)
Lust is there to help him reach his aim, but is there a rival in the plot? Jealousy, the next of the seven deadly sins is there, too…he is killed and Cleo is off with Mark Anthony.

Act 1 ends with golden banners in a breath-taking finale! Act 2 to follow.

07 February 2008

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

~Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

06 February 2008

"Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again."
~Mike Myers

01 February 2008


Hindus, in their capacity for love, are Hairless Christians,
Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus,
Christians, in their devotion to God, are Hat wearing Muslims...

(From 'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel)