Circus Kathmandu

Pani Serpa (Water Snake) Goddess; a large scale puppet that I designed and made in Nepal for Circus Kathmandu. 

The puppet is 4.5 metres long and very light weight, ideally operated by 4 performers. With invaluable help from Samantha Zsargo and Fiona Jenner. 

Top 2 photographs by Ingrid Chiron, the rest my own.

It was incredible to work with such a unique and interesting project. Circus Kathmandu was born from a troubled and painful history but is cooperatively working to redefine the status of contemporary circus performance in Nepal. It has its roots with the British charity The Esther Benjamins Trust which aims to eliminate human trafficking. They have a refuge in Kathmandu for rescued children and young people who had been trafficked or displaced into India and sold into forced labour institutions such as circuses. Kept as performers they are effectively imprisoned, denied an education and often beaten and abused.

It was in the refuge that the social circus project Sapana began. It aims to give these disempowered members of society the opportunity to develop the skills they have and to promote self confidence and expression. In previous years the notion of circus carried a very negative stigma. Traditionally it was seen as a low status and 'dirty' profession in Nepal, but thanks to this project it is increasingly being recognised as a highly skilled and exciting art form as well as a viable career. These young pople are being given vocational training and the tools that can lead them to real work opportunities in performance.

Circus Kathmandu evolved from Sapana as the first and so far only professional circus company in Nepal, and is currently made up of 13 young Nepali performers. Excitingly the company will be bringing their show 'Dakini' to London in their international debut and first step towards transglobal world domination. They will be performing Dakini at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane on March 27th 2013. The circus now comes under the umbrella of the anti trafficking charity Freedom Matters. 
More information and details on how to get tickets can be found on their website. 

This video explains more of the history of Sapana and Circus Kathmandu.