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Showers of white feathers

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If you want to slip back into childhood for a few mesmerizing moments, head to the closing ceremony of Bonjour India.

On March 31, visitors to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will have the luxury of watching a spectacle, quite literally in the sky, and the privilege of getting dunked in a sea of white feathers at the end of it, falling straight out of the heavens. That's an exotic extravaganza from Arles, France, that is visiting the city to mark the closing ceremony of Bonjour India, the cultural festival of France in India that opened on Republic Day and travelled across 16 cities with more than 150 shows.

The show at the stadium titled Flying Angels is modern circus but so spell-binding - it has left audiences in thrall wherever it has gone in the world - that it is likely to change the meaning of circus as we know it in this country. "It is so truly spectacular that we thought it would be a befitting finale to the Bonjour India festival, " says Aruna Adiceam, cultural attachê with the French embassy who put two years of work into bringing the show to India. What makes this edition of Flying Angels unique is the fact that it combines elements of another popular circus show from France, Circo de Madrugada, where the centrepiece is a huge spider dome for acrobats to prance about.

Flying Angels, or Place des Anges, was created by the French circus company Les Studios de Cirque. It was first staged it in Marseilles more than 10 years ago. It's directed by the late Pierrot Bidon and Stephane Girard, who co-founded the company along with Ana Rache in 2001. The 90-minute show features a team of 30 which includes acrobats suspended from tyroliens dressed in feathery dresses, who perform a variety of routines and top it off with a shower of snowflakes and feathers - weighing 1. 5 tonnes - on the audience. From what one has read about the past presentations of Flying Angels, it is designed to transport the audiences to a world of fantasy. The climax is known to make even adults feel liberated as they let go and play with feathers just like kids.

"The show is meant for large audiences. We can perform it for as small a number as 2, 000 and as large as 40, 000;the more the merrier, " says Sara Vincent of the circus studio. About 10, 000 people are expected to attend the event in Delhi.

The concept of sky and outer space is a defining feature, not just of Flying Angels, but Indo-French co-operation in general, says ambassador Francois Richier. "Luminosity, a performance that was part of Bonjour India was about sky and lights, " he says.

"More importantly, the two countries also jointly put the satellite SARAL in space last month atop the PSLV C20 rocket launched from Sriharikota. "

While angels in the sky are not likely to disappoint in any way, the feathers may raise doubts in the mind of some OCD-affected Indians. Adiceam puts all those doubts to rest when she clarifies that the geese feathers have been sourced from the hub of the pillow industry in Chennai, and have gone through a rigorous cleaning process before they were loosed on audiences in a white haze.

The show will be staged at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi, on March 31, 7pm

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