After travelling the world as a fire dancer with a French circus troupe, Kalou now teaches aerial acts from a tent in the heart of Auroville
Kalou’s circus classes are adventurous. But finding her school is an adventure in itself. Eluciole Circus, started by Kalou in 2012, is a circus school tucked away in the lush forests of Auroville. Google Maps is not your ally here. And after a point, beefy, four-wheeled vehicles too protest as the wooded lanes get narrower, until they can be manoeuvred only on foot. And therein lies the charm.
A 10-metre high dome peeps from a canopy of trees. Inside the 12-pillared school, students aged five and above, stretch before they end up looking like malleable metal figurines. Some touch their nose to their knees, while others suspend themselves from thick purple cloths and cascade like a delicate waterfall.
There is grace, balance, control and in the centre of it all, enviable abs. Each session is about two hours long. Before the pandemic hit, schools from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai would visit this centre to experience the basics of circus. During the pandemic Kalou says she noticed more people taking an interest in their own bodies and wanting to learn certain skills from her. But these are experiences that cannot be imparted virtually, she believes.
The circus school teaches acro yoga, juggling, hula hoop, acrobatics and aerial acts such as trapeze and tightrope walking. “These acts help develop all the muscles and the practitioner learns how to use these muscles. The body becomes supple, flexible and the body’s endurance and capacity to adapt are tested,” explains Kalou who moved to Auroville from France in 1998.
After dabbling in theatre for a few years in Paris, Kalou found herself drawn to adrenaline-pumping acts like fire dancing. At 25, she joined a professional circus company and travelled the world performing fire dance, an act she perfected over 15 years. “At the age of 46 I started performing aerial acrobatics. I am 55 now,” she smiles, doing an effortless split as she levitates mid air with the support of a cloth.
In her initial years in India, she taught fire performances. “I developed an artform that combines dance, martial arts and acrobatics. Inspired by the mandalas and ancient signs of Tibetan culture, it is a purification ritual dance that celebrates life,” she adds.
Performing these artforms filled Kalou with an inexplicable sensation, an amalgamation of joy, harmony, concentration, love and transformation. She knew this is what she wanted to share with the world. “That’s why I started my circus school: to help people irrespective of age to explore and discover all possibilities of understanding themselves and their bodies at a deeper level,” smiles Kalou.
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