It appears as if this year, the acts that didn't make final cut for Cirque du Soleil decided to winter in Arambol, Goa, India.
And since one of their members was turning 30, they agreed to celebrate by putting on a Cabaret/Burlesque Show at Totem, a guest house/ restaurant/bar/performance space at the far south end of Arambol Beach. And yes, there is a large wooden Totem Pole. Did the Indians confuse themselves with Indians??? and a large circular stage painted with North American Indian tribal designs.
As people strolled in and took their seats at this free event, a dj spun Indian trance music. children of many different colorings, from many different countries, leapt and froliced about on the stage giggling, twirling, beaming in joyous abandonment like an ad for Bennetton.
i didn't try to suppress the grin that spread across my face ear to ear. what could i say. it was a slice of Utopia.
From behind the sarong-hung, makeshift dressing room 3 plumed feline creatures emerged bearing trays of fruit. they slunk and slithered between the rows of red plastic chairs, hand feeding chunks of watermelon or dangling bunches of grapes before the mouths of the crowd.
the Costumes: imagine a raid on the storage shed of Mad Max meets Cirque du Soleil meets neo-hippie rasta punk. it gives a vague impression of the leather-clad performers - costumes ripped and torn with fashionable unstitched, scalloped edges, buckles and rivets. and feathers. lots and lots of feathers. plumes. glittering masks.
the Acts: i could never have imagined the art of fire dancing could come so far.
solo and with partners
flaming batons twirled
flaming poi spun
flaming hula hoops crcled
flaming candelabras twisted and turned and looped
as zen-like masters slid across the stage manipulating their fire devices in impossible configurations while belly dancing or doing tai chi and even a hot swing dance number straight out of "So You Think You Can Dance," with 2 jitterbugging dancers hot steppng it while swirling batons of fire.
to break up the pyrotechnics, a 'popping' bellydancer isolated muscles never before isolated in public; Johnny Boy from France performed martial arts breakdancing; a man and woman juggling team in black leotards and tights, undulated as one gyrating organism rolling a white, yellow and red ball up, over and across their bodies like pebbles in the ocean; and a Russian pole dancer extended one finely-toned, all muscle, no fat, 5 mile long leg behind her ear while her other equally classic-long lean leg stretched to Mars, as she posed half way up the pole, suspended by her armpit clasped against the pole.
i had come expecting a few talented individuals amidst a lot of 3-chord guitar strumng accompanying flat singing. what i beheld was a jaw-dropping, breath-taking display of incredible artistry.
the climax of the evening's performance: the tall blond fire dancer brought out his bow and arrow. lit the arrow on fire and shot it onto a paper covered target. as the paper went up in flames, what was revealed was a heart and OM sign glowing behind.
Arambol - a tiny beach town in the north of Goa. between jungle and the Sea of Arabia. a vortex that pulls the strange, the beautiful and the very very gifted.