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So far, show good: Stage all set for Russian razzmatazz
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 12:21
There are no translations available.

Kolkata: From the cool climes of Moscow to the humid city of Kolkata, it has opened a whole new world for young Zenia Barzinova, Ania Blago-va and Iram  Lidtwin.

" It is my first visit to India and I am already liking the place," says Ania, a trained circus artiste associated with the Russian State Circus Company An acrobat and technical helper, Ania, who arrived in the city a couple of days back, is excited "to splash around in the hotel swimming pool." (unthinkable in the 15 degrees centigrade temperatures in Moscow). 

So are Iram and Zenia who just can't wait to showcase the richness and grandeur of their circus to the culturally rich Kolkata audience, a fact they conveyed through an interpreter.

They along with 36 circus artistes, including a few ex-Olympians, 15 dogs ranging from Spitz to Lyca, seven cats, several birds and almost 40 tonnes of stage material form just a part of the team which has arrived in the city to perform from Sunday

" Almost 80 per cent of our artistes are hired by the US and European firms for circus or acrobatic performances. We have nearly 10,000 artistes in out company and they perform at 18 countries," said Russian State Circus Company's international department director Arkady

He promised the Kolkata crowd a performance which will be the most beautiful spectacle they've ever seen and added, "the restriction on sea lion performances due to objections raised by some animal welfare organizations will in no way affect the show."

" We do not want to hurt the sentiments of a sizeable part of the populace who are against any animal performances," reasoned Celebrity Management Group general director Deka Debanga Kumar. The event management company is working along with Choice Events and Trade Pvt. Ltd to organize the circus.

Hence four sea lions will be flown back to Moscow in the next few days.

" We are waiting for the right aircraft and also the vet's approval before sending them away," said Kumar.

The one-and-half-hour show to begin at a packed Netaji Indoor Stadium on Sunday evening will witness a gala event writ with acrobatic skills, trapeze, animal performances and visual extravaganza nonetheless.

For a ringside view
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 12:20
There are no translations available.

5/12 2004г. "LOOK"

The Great Indian Circus may have turned 125 last month, but it's the Russians who bag the medal for showbiz.  Anirban Das Mahapatra   Inspects the arena
Seventeen years ago, they descended on the city in all their splendour and left the Indian circus-goer mesmerised with their grace, skills and flair. And then, they departed as quickly as they had arrived. Time rolled by, and many assumed that they would never return to thrill—that watching a Russian circus troupe perform in person would be but a once-in-a-lifetie experience.

The assumptions have been proved wrong. The ice maidens have come calling again. Only, they come at a time when India's own circus industry is in я complete shambles. Pushed to the fringes of mainstream entertainment, the Indian circus-which celebrated a low-profile 125th anniversary at the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi last month— is on the highway to an unceremonious demise. "Some 20,000 artistes and (their) families are on the brink of extinction," C.P. Krishan Nair of the Indian Circus Federation observed at the function. "Unless we get help fast, the circus will die."

Even a couple of decades ago, few would have agreed with Nair. With the advent of winter in the city, names such as Rajkamal, Gemini, Jumbo and Olympic—all circus companies — would do the rounds during lunch breaks in schools. Tents would mushroom overnight in the public parks across the city. Motorcycles without silencers could be heard vrooming in the distance. The neon beams would light up the skies every night, as if to announce to one and all that the show was on.
Each circus would have its own unique USP: the clowns; the animals; the knife-throwers; the trapeze artistes. A couple of eventful hours at the tents on a Sunday afternoon would provide enough fodder for a week's animated conversation in the back-benches and in between classes in school. A book or a film that bordered on the circus was an instant hit. Don't forget Satyajit Ray's Chinnamastar Abhishaap, or the evergreen Raj Kapoor flick Mera Naат Joker. The great Indian cir cus was there to stay.
Or so it seemed then. Now, it is clear that hard times have come easy—and too soon—for the Indian circus companies. Thanks to an extent to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1970, and some fiery demonstrations by animal rights activists, elephants balancing on one foot and tigers leaping through rings of fire are history. Sports minister Sunil Dutt and information and broadcasting minister S. Jaipal Reddy both reportedly admit to have seen wild animals for the first time in their lives while going to the circus as children. Not many kids are as lucky these days.

Stringent child labour laws, too, have taken their toll, since most companies still continue to employ cru- dely trained child artistes. "Children have the flexibility to perform difficult acrobatics and gymnastics," a former trapeze artiste was reported to have commented in defence. Not many would buy her words, though.

In the-face'of failing business, circuses have shifted base from the cities to semi-urban areas. And in a desperate bid to make ends meet, circus-owners have resorted to un-fair practices. Tents across India from UP to Kerala have been raided on tip-offs of alleged child-trafficking. The authorities have seldom been proved wrong.

Despite the odds, a little help from the government may still change things for the better. The Russians provide you with a case study. Over the last decade, the USSR has come to mean little more than an entry rarely looked up in the dictionary of abbreviations. Piles of Soviet children's literature have vanished without a trace from bookstores the world over (they don't read folk tales about the beautiful Vassilisa anymore). One isn't sure if the fiddlers still play their soulful tune perched atop huts in rural Russia.
The Russian Circus, however, continues to perform. And how. Twice a day, the curtains part at the Netaji Indoor Stadium to spring forth a visual treat on ice. Girls in sequinned body suits and men in stunning costumes move to superbly choreographed steps and leave the spectators enthralled with their acrobatic performance. There aren't too many animals around, but not many are complaining.

" It only goes to show that for the circus to thrive, one needs to follow up the animals with superior human performance," says Deka Deb-anga Kumar, a Moscow-based Non-Resident Indian and exclusive distributor of the state-owned Russian State Circus Company (RSCC). "It's something that the Russians have maintained." And that's what pays.

Animals, too, seem to have their way in the Russian circus. And unlike in India, animal rights activism is unheard of. They are treated "at par with performers, really", says Anna Se-mashko, manager of the international relations department of the RSCC. "They (activists) don't take offence to pets, do they?"

Despite her keenness, however, Semashko is yet to see an Indian circus perform. "I've heard it's mostly animals, though," she says. It's only a matter of time before she may be proved wrong.
Compared to the way in which circuses are managed in India, Russia offers a study in stark contrast. As part of a 120-year-old tradition, the Russian circus industry currently thrives in 40 establishments scattered through the country's 11 time zones. With about 5,000 performers on its payrolls and 6.000 animals to care for, the RSCC is one of the biggest public concerns in the country in the post-USSR era, offering prospective career opportunities to thousands of Russian youth.

State sponsorship has brought about its own developments. And perhaps there are a few lessons to be learnt from the way the Russians have done it. Perhaps the promises ("We can have a scheme where circus artistes can be sponsored," Reddy reportedly pondered aloud) will bear fruit in the future. Perhaps granting industry status to the Indian circus and backing it up with governmental infrastructure will help. Perhaps not.

Perhaps the ice maidens will go away and never return again. Or perhaps they will. With or without the sea lions. But that's a different story.

Organisers get bail over sea lions
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 12:19
There are no translations available.

7/12 2004г. "Kolkata Live"

THE ORGANISERS of the Russian Circus on Ice have taken anticipatory bail to avoid harassment from the Customs authorities over the four sea lions on the ground.

" The circus authorities, and not the event management group, brought the sea lions here. So if there is any problem, it is the circus authorities* responsibility," said Newa Yadav of Choice Events and Trade Pvt Ltd.
Yadav said Customs authorities have been trying to accuse his group of keeping the sea lions without proper papers. uSea lions are marine animals, and not wild animals," he said.
Judges N.A. Chowdhury and S.P. Mitra directed the Customs authorities not to arrest Yadav, fellow-director Deka Debanga Kumar and managing director Atif Mustafiz Ali till the next date of hearing on December 23. By then, the circus will be in Mumbai.
The high court also directed the Customs authorities not to interfere with the custody of the sea lions, now with the Russian State Circus Company
The company is in a fix over how to transport the sea lions back to Moscow. They have asked the Russian Consulate if a special plane can be arranged fromKolkata.
" The sea lions are in AC chambers and in perfect health," said circus director Samashko Anna. Maintenance of each costs over Rs 5,000 a day.

Out of sight, in luxury
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 12:19
There are no translations available.

10/01 2005г. KINSUK BASU

An air-conditioned living room, a spa for a shower and a royal spread for lunch—if you're thinking luxury, you're thinking right.
For the four sea lions with the Russian Circus team in the city, that is what life is all about at Netaji Indoor stadium.
Far away from home, the only thing these mammals are missing is the warmth of human applause.
Except that, it's all indulgence; at Rs 15,000 per day.

To begin with, the four have been kept in an air-conditioned enclosure behind the stage at one end of the stadium. And the air conditioner is on round-the-clock.
Inside the enclosure, the sea lions have been kept in huge water tubs, where they can move, if not swim.
Every day, Julia, the trainer, guides
them through special sessions, followed by an hour of cuddling and a refreshing shower.
" The way the four play with the trainer is a spectacle in itself. She is possibly the only one in the world who can communicate so well with the sea lions," said Bhaskar Goswami, from Choice Events and Trade Promotion, the company managing the shows.
Lunch follows soon after. It is estimated that the sea lions consume between 70 and 80 kg of fish every day. And not any kind of fish. They have to be fed chosen varieties of sea fish, that have to be specially flown in.
At Rs 150 a kg, the organisers claimed that they end up spending between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 every day on fish alone.
But the sea lions won't be here for long. Come December 12, the mammals— sucked into a controversy that has stopped them from exhibiting their talents —will head back home via Mumbai, where the team will perform.
" They will be sent to Mumbai in a special truck fitted with an air-conditioned cell, along with two trainers. From Mumbai, they will fly to Moscow. We are now hunting for transport operators who deal with huge air-conditioned cells,"said Dharam Dutt Pandey of the event management group.
The circus troupe will start for Mumbai three days after the sea lions. Efforts are on to push back the deadline.
" We are trying hard for an extension, but things haven't been finalised," said an organiser.
The managers are not complaining, though. "Almost every day has been a sellout. We have already received offers for special shows at Hyderabad and Surat," claimed Goswami.


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