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She walks on silk


A CIRCUS comes to town and when that happens, a city begins to somersault. That is what circus does to us. It conjures up images of people performing the most daring tricks and of animals behaving in most astonishing ways.

Practice, practice and more practice is what takes a person to that pinnacle of perfection to perform in a circus, and all the way from Paris is a circus artiste in Kochi, to learn the traditional art of Kathakali.

Alexandra Malaise, walks aerial silks. She is a circus artiste who walks on the tightrope in Paris. She is here to learn Kathakali, "as it mixes, theatre, dance and music". "An aerial silk is the name given to a big piece of fabric. It is drawn and tied between two points, at a height of 10 meters above the ground. I walk on it, dance on it, and perform acrobatics on it. I walk on stilts too! Here only traditional circus exists. In Paris that is old fashioned. We are mixing dance, drama, theatre and circus, that is why for me, Kathakali has been such a learning experience.

Kathakali is complicated and very precise like tightrope walking. We were taught the slokas, mudras and everything became coherent, but correlating facial expressions with the body movement was difficult for me.

" I am more of a dancer and not an actor, so facial expressions was difficult. Walking aerial silks, I have been able to train my body, but with Kathakali, I have learnt to train my facial muscles. Eye movements are totally unknown in France. Even in mime, it is not so evolved. For expressing sadness, we simply look down or grimace but in Kathakali, our body, eyes, limbs all reflect the feeling. Another aspect I learnt is of massage. In France we stretch as a warm-up before a performance but here I learnt massage as a pre-requisite".

Alexandra, who has extended her stay in Kerala, is keen to learn other dance forms and Kalaripattu too! And armed with graceful dance movements, suppleness of body, controlled muscle movement, a sense of tradition, myth, time and space, Alexandra will walk on the clouds more easily then ever before.

P.S.

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