After traveling the world as a fire dancer with a French circus troupe, Kalou now performs aerial acts from a tent in the heart of Auroville
Kalou’s circus lessons are adventurous. But finding her school is an adventure in itself. Founded by Kalou in 2012, Eluciole Circus is a circus school tucked away in the lush forests of Auroville. Google Maps is not your ally here. And after a while, beefy four-wheel vehicles protest as the wooded lanes narrow, until they can only be maneuvered on foot. And therein lies the charm.
A 10-meter-high dome peeps out of a canopy. In the 12-pillar school, students ages five and up stretch out before looking like malleable metal figurines. Some touch their noses to their knees, while others hang themselves from thick purple cloths and cascade down like a delicate waterfall.
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There’s grace, balance, control, and in the middle of it all, enviable abs. Each session lasts approximately two hours. Before the pandemic hit, schools from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai would visit this center 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 transferred virtually, she believes.
The circus school teaches acro yoga, juggling, hula hoop, acrobatics and aerial acts such as trapeze and tightrope walking. “These actions help to develop all muscles and the practitioner learns to use these muscles. The body becomes supple, flexible and the stamina and adaptability of the body are put to the test,” explains Kalou, who moved to Auroville from France in 1998.
After working in the theater in Paris for a few years, Kalou was drawn to adrenaline-pumping acts like fire dancing. At the age of 25, she joined a professional circus troupe and traveled the world performing fire dance, an act she perfected over 15 years. “I started aerial acrobatics at the age of 46. I’m 55 now,” she laughs, doing an effortless split while floating in the air with the support of a cloth.
In her first years in India she gave fire performances. “I have developed an art form that combines dance, martial arts and acrobatics. Inspired by the mandalas and ancient signs of Tibetan culture, it’s a cleansing ritual dance that celebrates life,” she adds.
Performing these art forms filled Kalou with an inexplicable thrill, an amalgamation of joy, harmony, concentration, love and transformation. She knew this was what she wanted to share with the world. “That’s why I started my circus school: to help people of all ages explore and discover all the possibilities to understand themselves and their bodies on a deeper level,” laughs Kalou.
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