Aerial Act – Wonders of Silk for Reliance at Vadodara
December 28 is when the late Dhirubhai Ambani’s birth is celebrated in India, especially by those in the Reliance family. One such celebration was slated for Dec. 27 at the IPCL Reliance Ground in Vadodara. Jay Excellency, the event agency handling the event, approached us with a specific request – an international act: most specifically, he wanted our aerial act – Wonders of Silk – as the opening number for the grand show marking both Mr. Ambani’s birthday as well as Reliance’s 4G network “JIO”.
This was a dual-celebration kind of setup, with the main launch of JIO (featuring live perfomances by Shah Rukh Khan and A R Rahman) taking place at Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai and being streamed to the cities that Reliance had a presence in. All of this was to be streamed in Vadodara after the lighting of the lamp, our opening act and several other performances (big night, yes?).
Jay Purohit (proprietor of Jay Excellency) knew of us beforehand and had approached us before for events…as luck would have it, nothing had worked out until this time. Unfortunately, this was an extremely last minute confirmation – we were appointed on Dec. 23 and we had 3 days to get everyone and everything there and ready!
A time constraint like that brings immediate challenges. And we got the best of them…sigh! Our biggest challenge – getting everyone to Vadodara; that’s seven of us from Natura and the performers Daria Nazimova, Schuberth Irene, Mietz April, and Kapellar Markus. And we all were coming from five different cities. Now we all know that last minute flights cost the earth; a last minute flight in December to Vadodara (which has limited flights on a good day!)…well, we’re trying to forget how much that cost! With a little thought and planning, we were able to get around that by routing the flights through other cities, rather than taking a direct flight. While that did cut our costs, it also cut into our rehearsal and setup time.
Which leads us to the next challenge…very limited rehearsal time. Usually, the team rehearses before heading to the venue and doing another round or two there. This time, we simply didn’t have the time. Still, the performers were nothing if not absolute professionals – despite the tiring journey on the 26th, they rehearsed for 3-4 hours, with another 2 hours the next day as well. Watching the act, you’d never know they were so exhausted!
The setup, while not technically challenging (hehe) – a motorized pendulum system in the middle and two manual paging lines for the sides – did have a slight hiccup; we couldn’t get the truss that we would’ve liked. We usually use the international makes but a last minute requirement when seven large-scale weddings are going on in the city at the same time…well, that’s not going to work out. So, we had to use one of Indian-make…fortunately, we were familiar with the manufacturing company and trusted their work; so that worked out ok!
Now, aerial acts have a very international feel to them…you tend to see them more in foreign acts and perfomances. That being the case, the Reliance team wasn’t exactly confident that Natura (or any Indian company) had the necessary expertise in safety standards; a concern they raised during the negotiations. Fortunately, our track record and past performance at Ambani family functions convinced them. And witnessing the act themselves won them over completely. Isn’t that proof that we’re great at what we do? We think so!