Circus and Record Dance
Profile of Group & Production
(Kazhaikkuttu & Natanam)
The first thing that meets the eye when entering Kazhaikkuttu Nagar in Jalatinpettai close to Tambaram (Chennai) are the covered wagons, now motorized, but once drawn by a pony. A group of women is watching the community television. The end of the street sports a covered stage adorned with bleached out paper garlands of a previous performance. Here lives a group of about 250 people who are professionally involved in traditional circus acrobatics (pole dancing, tight rope walking, jumping through a ring of fire, accompanied by drumming) and 'Record dance'. The latter is a playback show in which a young girl and boy, or a group of dancers, dressed up in filmy style imitate popular cinema songs (formally played on a gramophone 'record' and now on tape) and dance sequences in imitation of the silver screen. Record dance performances took place in rural areas and the poorer parts of the big city, Chennai. Because of the sexual innuendos that many of these performances carried, the genre got into trouble. Cleansed of its immensely popular, but provocative content, the Record dance has found it difficult to attract local patronage though performances still take place. In addition to live performances, the circus artists work as stunt men and women for the local film industry. The artists once emigrated from Gujarat and speak a language, which, so they say themselves, is an amalgam of Gujarati and other languages. They also speak Tamil.
The curators of the Festival are delighted to be able to present this performing arts form in which women and men participate on an equal level and which is accessible to young and old at the Kuttu Festival 2005. A group of thirty artists—young girls, boys, women and men—will present a one-and-half hour Circus and Record Dance programme. The Circus performance will be off-stage at ground level. From there the group will move on stage where the Dance programme will be presented.
Tamil Nadu Circus Artists Welfare Association
3/584, Kazhaikkuttu Nagar, Perumbakkam Main Road
Contact person: Mr. K. Babuji