Abi and Tom, coordinators from Performers Without Borders 2014 India Tour working alongside Vertical Circus as part of a three month project to develop a performance troupe named Akaashen, a group of young people living in Kaputli colony, a slum area in the north east of Delhi. Akaashen are second generation Rajistani families that migrated to Delhi seeking prosperity, a line of musicians and artists from the lower casts of the old indian caste system, earning their money from traditional drumming, also practicing traditional puppet dance and Malakam (traditional Indian aerial rope). performance is in their blood and they were eager to learn everything we had to show them.

We arrive in Delhi at 7am check in to a room and we travel to the colony to start work, walking from the Metro station along a busy road we turn into the narrow street into the colony, the streets are crowded and littered with rubbish and the smell of the open sewers is overpowering. Arriving at the school where they are based we entered the training space, a hot room with a concrete floor and bars on the windows. From the first day the energy was high, workshopping and training six hours a day in Acrobatics, Aerial Silk, Trapeze, Acrobalance, Contemporary Dance and Theatre.

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Akaashen had a professional show coming up where they would showcase their new skills. The cast were excited, this was one of their biggest performances yet, a charity event at the Australian High Commission in Delhi. They rehearsed hard putting the final polish onto their acts and we gave them as much advice and encouragement as we could. The show was a great success and featured breathtaking Silk and beautiful Triple Trapeze acs as well as a Fusion Puppet Dance and high energy drumming piece involving the whole cast, finished off with a spectacular spanish web and fire breathing finale.

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This project was a great opportunity to work with young aspiring professionals, giving them the coaching and information they needed to progress, this project was not just about teaching circus but creating a sustainable system where the young people can continue to develop and train themselves and others in their community. It was a real privilege to work with these talented young people and be involved with the creation of their troupe.

We said our fond farewells, leaving physically drained but mentally inspired we jumped on the train for another thirty hour train journey. Onwards to Darjeeling!

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