Aurora Tornalis is a magical outdoor show, bringing together our age-old fascination for fire and the infectious energy found in swirling movement. Dance, live music and circus acts are woven to create an hitherto unseen fire ritual of mystery and intrigue.
Aurora Tornalis is influenced by the spiritual and mystic tones of music and dance from Western, Middle-Eastern and Indian cultures. It draws inspiration from the “sacred dances” of George Gurdjieff (Russian philosopher, mystic and composer, 1866-1949), whereby complex, tightly-rhythmic movements aim to spiritually ‘awaken’ the dancer. The mysticism suggested by these movements are embellished by the use of fire, adding to their hypnotic quality. Gurdjieff’s “movements” were meant for all seekers of spirituality, leading them into a trance-like state towards transformation or “awakening”; this is represented by the dancers literally moving from darkness into light.
The show journeys towards intriguing India, borrowing grace and fluidity from Kathak, a classical dance style of north India with both Hindu and Mughal influences. Originally performed by travelling bards and in temple courtyards its purpose was primarily narrative, to extol the stories of the Hindu pantheon. As it was perfected into a dance for the Mughal courts it became more abstract and gained subtlety, precision, flair and flamboyance.
While speed and spins are hallmarks of Kathak, they are also the mainstay of the Turkish or Persian Dervish. For the Dervish whirling is a visual expression of surrender to their spirituality. Long skirts that accentuate these twirling movements clearly reference the Dervish. The Tanoura dance of Egyptian folk traditions also employs whirling but, in contrast to the Turkish style, is non-religious, colourful and more exuberant. The finale of Aurora Tornalis showcases both the subtle and more zestful forms of whirling. The dancers ‘pour’ fire while spinning, creating a spiral of dancing flames. The crowning point of the show is a dancer spinning in a fire-skirt, designed especially for this show.
The entire ‘ritual’ is conducted by a shaman, who overlooks everything from the perch of his stilts, creating an extra visual dimension to the performance.
Music has been especially composed for this production, bringing together influences from the East and West. The cyclical rhythms suggested by north Indian classical music offer natural resonance with circular dance movements. Alongside popular instruments like the double-bass and clarinet, Aurora Tornalis also showcases a range of less-known and unique instruments from across the world. Among these are the chatkan (Siberian zither), the Kyrgyz mouth harp, the bawu (Chinese free-reed flute), the khobrakh (Khakas-Siberian flute), the alboka (Basque double-reed pipe), the overtone flute and uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes).
The vocals are based on Albanian polyphonies, juxtaposed with overtone singing and Tuvinian throat singing. Most of the rhythmic sections are conducted on the tablas (North Indian percussion instruments), with each composition being set to a different time cycle. The instrumental melodies are based on the raga scales of Indian classical music.
Circus skills such as a stilt-walking and fire hoop twirling, dance and live music are woven effectively and organically into one mystical spectacle. While various elements from different spiritual and cultural practices have been sources of inspiration, Aurora Tornalis does not have any religious message and remains a ritual spectacle for pure enjoyment.
Director/Stilt-walker: Sven Roelants
Choreographer/Dancer: Tom Decuyper
Dancer: Sooraj Subramaniam
Circus/Fire artist: Nele Callebaut
Composer/Musician: Leen Minten
Musician: Raphael De Cock
Musician: Jef Scheepers
Audiotrack: Paul Segers
Technician: Alexandre Rogge