Over the years, martial arts form kalaripayattu has built a steady fan base for its fluidity in mixing with other genres of movement, be it dance or theatre. And in the city, 19 feet above everyone else, kalaripayattu meets the Chinese pole.
French circus acrobat Ode Rosset is bringing to Chennai her act, Via, which combines her talents on the pole — climbing, sliding and holding kalari poses — supported by Fatima El Hassouni’s chant-like vocals, and Jerome Cury’s percussion. The trio has combined with two kalaripayattu artists from Kerala, Kishor CK and Subheesh P, both trainers at KJV Kalari, Kottayam.
“I first came to India when I was 18,” says Ode, who started learning kalari 12 years ago at KJV Kalari. “I have been working with Jerome and Fatime for over a decade, combining different artistic disciplines. That’s why two years ago, I introduced them to each other for an act together.” It was right up Jerome’s alley: he runs a company called Les Mèlangeurs, that does similar artistic collaborations.
Ode will be performing to traditional Chinese music; Jerome will be playing instruments from across the world — water drums, aquaphones, harmonic flutes, Tibetan bowls, and even tabla. On the ground, Kishor and Subheesh will be performing kalari, as Fatima sets a soulful mood with her singing.
The group is on a nine-city tour. Coming to Chennai from Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru, the trio wil head towards cities like Bhopal and Indore. “Wherever we go, we like combining with local artists, to build a connection between India and France. Through our performance, we want to highlight the universal nature of art,” she says.
Via’s musical act in association with Alliance Française of Madras, will be held at Phoenix MarketCity on March 7, from 6 pm.