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French circus meets Kalaripayattu of Kerala


Specialised in Chinese Pole Acrobatic, internationally renowned Ode Rosset is all set to perform at the Museum of Goa (MOG), Pilerne on April 29. The act titled ‘Exchange’ is an artistic fusion of French circus and Kalaripayattu of Kerala. NT BUZZ talks to Ode about her performance and her experience working with Kalaripayattu artistes of Kerala and more



  1. What can we expect from your circus act Chinese Pole performance in Goa?

You will see performances by three Kalaripayattu artistes Akhil, Assad and Kishor who have learnt this circus art in India. It will be a show just like a circus, mixed with some Kalaripayattu movements. There will also be some dangerous and nice acrobatics movements along with other elements in the act like fire, acting, and involvement with the audience.


  1. Tell us about your association with Kalaripayattu artistes of Kerala. How did this association come about?

I came 10 years ago to the KJV Kalari of Puthuppally, Kottayam, where I got to meet the Kalaripayattu expert, Baiju Varghese Gurukkal, and other Kalaripayattu students. At that time, I was part of International Centre of Circus Art (CNAC) in France and they allowed me to learn this martial art in India. Despite being an international Chinese pole artiste I still came to India to learn Kalaripayattu. Varghese helped me to believe in an exchange between my art (Chinese pole) and the Kalaripayattu. We made a Chinese pole in India where I taught five Kalaripayattu artistes the art of Chinese pole. Now, we are like a company that works together. We are also planning to have an exchange project between the Kalari of Puthupally and two famous circus schools in France (Academie Fratellini, Paris and Circus Pole, Amiens). In France as well as in India everybody is ready to impart free teaching and invitations for which we need to find like-minded support from sponsors and partners. If we get this help, five Kalaripayattu artistes will go to France to learn circus and promote the Kalaripayattu and seven French circus students will come to India to learn Kalaripayattu and promote circus arts.


  1. What was it like practicing for the performances with the students from Kerala?

The Kalaripayattu artistes are good at their work. They learn very fast and are full of energy. They practised day and night for almost a month to learn the art of Chinese pole acrobatics. They successfully learnt the art within a month which usually takes almost a year. They have even helped me to learn Kalaripayattu while I teach them Chinese pole acrobatics. Being a woman, I always wondered as to how I would be able to work with them, but I was very comfortable.


  1. Explain how Kalaripayattu and Chinese pole use a universal body language which goes through the body.


Yes, it’s true, every art is used to bring about a certain emotion. All artistes speak using their body, voice, clothes, and eyes or through their paintings, writings, sculptures, etc. Our cultures are not the same, but our humanity is. It is nice to get this feeling of understanding. In this show we are using our body and our identity, and thus there is no need to speak French, Malyalam or Hindi to understand it. We do it from our heart. In India, spirituality is very strong. Performing a show in India is also like a form of prayer.


  1. You have travelled and performed at several countries and in India too. Share your experience.

I have completed over 11 years being a Chinese pole artiste and have travelled and performed in countries including Colombia, Brasilia, Argentina, Marco, Djerba and the whole of Europe. Besides, I also act and dance with my company named ‘Cie Equivoque’ and freelance for other companies. In India and in France women who work in circuses don’t do it as a profession. In France too, not many women do Chinese pole. Circus art is not as developed in India as it is in France.


  1. What are the characteristics and similarities of these two forms of art?

Kalaripayattu is a traditional art form that is connected to animals, gods and Ayurveda. It is not only an art form but for many it is a way of living and thinking. Chinese pole is not traditional. It is a circus art, using the physical body, emotions and personal knowledge through the performance. Mixing the tradition of Kalaripayattu with personal circus knowledge and identity is probably a way for helping people develop themselves. It is like taking some of the best we have in Indian and French culture and mixing it together. While Kalaripayattu is more connected with acrobatic movement and dancing, if you do mix the two, Kalaripayattu and Chinese pole acrobatics you will understand the similarities.


(Exchange, an artistic fusion of French circus and Kalaripayattu of Kerala by specialist in Chinese Pole Acrobatic, Ode Rosset will be held on today, April 29 at 7 p.m. at MOG Pilerne. The event is organised by Alliance Française and Museum of Goa. Contribution: adult `300 and children `100. Details call: 07722089666.)

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