In an attempt to boost the dying business of circuses in the city, the owners of the Empire Circus that started in Mumbai on Friday have introduced artists from various parts of the world for the first time.
Five artists from Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Whales performed on Friday receiving overwhelming response from the audience.
Underneath the humungous red and blue striped tent, the foreign artists performed their individual acts with tremendous style and flexibility that had the audience under a spell. They showcased their talents of rope acrobats, fire juggling, hula-hoops and trapeze skills cheering the audience with great ease.
Those performing at the circus were Richard Wright from Northern Ireland, Jeanine Ebnoether from Switzerland, Lisa Lotte from Netherlands, Clare Crook from Whales and Voosen David from Belgium.
After the performances of wild animals were banned in 1998, circus owners have been juggling with various ideas to woo the Circus enthusiasts. One of the main strategies has been roping in foreign artists especially from Russia to fill in the crunch of animal performances.
"It has been tough to recover the money for us since majority of audience that consist of small children loved watching the animal performances", explains Vidyadhar Tandel, Organiser, Empire circus.
While the circus now has elephants, horses, dogs and foreign birds, it has been tough for the organisers to fill the tent with a capacity of 1800 people.
"We hardly get 250 visitors for the morning and afternoon shows and over 800 visitors for the evening show. It's been years since we have not used the house full board", adds Tandel.
"Most of the circus companies had introduced Russian artists and thus even we thought of involving foreign artists to tackle with the crisis", says Akhtar Hussain, owner of the 52-year-old circus.
While this new strategy has increased more than 30 per cent expenses, Hussain is still positive about recovering it. "We have to take risks. After this event we will judge the business and then continue roping the foreign artists for all events in various cities", he says.
According to Hussain, the approximate budget for the 40 days circus crosses over Rs 15 lakh however, since the past few years it has been difficult to even pay the dues of the 300 odd staff members of the circus.
Jeanine Ebnoether from Switzeland - Acrobats and contact juggling
Jeanine has been entertaining people with her acrobats and contact juggling since she was a child, however she began performing professionally since the past one and half year. "I have been performed in Belgium and Switzerland and this is the first time I have come to India", says Jeanine juggling with her ball.
According to Jeanine, circus here appears to be very massive and colourful. "The European circus is essentially of two types. The traditional one is very similar to the one in India with all it lights and colours while the modern one is more like theatrical style", explains Jeanine, who is having a tough time performing in the hot weather. However, "Indian circus looks spectacular with its huge tents and lots of artists", she adds.
Richard Wright from Northern Ireland - Rope Acrobats and Fire Juggling
Aiming to share his skills with the Indian artists to enhance the circus performances here, Richard is looking forward to spend more time in India. "We are planning to spend several months here and interact more with the Indian artists", says Richard, who has obtained trained in Rope Acrobats and Fire Juggling in Northern Ireland. While Richard visited Goa last year, this is the first time he visited India for a performance.
According to Richard, "Funding from the government for circus events in the foreign countries has helped enhancing the business and also the performances."
"Due to the government funding, the infrastructure is in place thus everything is more organised", he says.
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