The ‘Omaje’ performance by the ‘Ludifico’ Centre for Circus Art, deals with the revival of the Serbian mythical creature Omaja. Three circus artists enchant people with their dance skills and handling fire props, with the intention of pointing out what enchants people today and diverts them from their life path. The performance will take place in the Svilara Cultural Station on 3 October at 8 p.m.
Omajas appear at night, most often near the mill or on lakes, streams and forests, and disappear with roosters and the first rays of the sun. Omaja is also called the first drop that falls from the mill, and whoever bathes with that water is protected from the influence of these creatures. It is believed that the Omajas can only be seen by people born on Saturday.
‘We wished to do something from the Serbian folklore, so we found Omaja by researching mythology. The more we read and researched, the more we realised that this being, although its main mission is to divert people from their life path, is actually confronting the person with all aspects of the personality that he has neglected. That is why Omaja is shown to everyone in a different form, because everyone carries their own burden with which Omaja frightens or ridicules him. We believe that such stories are insufficiently represented on the Serbian art scene, so we wished to do something that can present our cultural heritage in a modern and creative way,’ says Mira Dobrković, from the ‘Ludifico’ Centre for Circus Art.
Omaja appears in the forms of various animals: goat, cat, chicken, dog, buffalo, rabbit, as well as in the female form, and it is considered that it has no power over a man if he does not speak in front of it.
‘For the purpose of creating this performance, we conducted research in Eastern Serbia in the area where there are the most stories about the Omajas, i.e. Osenji as they are called in that area. These are the villages around Knjaževac: Sokolovica, Gornje and Donje Žuniče, Bučje, Ravna, Lokva… The roads of Omaja are landscapes of untouched natural beauty, where we had a brief insight into the atmosphere that once ruled the fields and mountains, river banks and lakes where the Omajas bathed their followers, and forests where people followed them, not caring for minor physical injuries of which they were aware only after the roosters saved them in the morning,’ points out Dobrković.
When asked what has the power to enchant us nowadays, the prominent artist answers:
‘This is the question that has interested us the most since we have been researching this topic, and it is incredible how much of that is there on a daily basis, without us even being aware of it. There are some commercials all around us, at every step you are offered something you don’t want or don’t need. How to eat, dress, where to go, what to wear, how to look, what to read, what to listen to, who to trust. It is very easy for anyone who has not formed an opinion to follow some of the modern enchantments, they live in telephones, on social networks, on the street, in restaurants, in shopping malls, in the markets… Omaja is all around us and we are all Omajas to someone.’
According to the artists from the ‘Ludifico’ Centre for Circus Art, the main goal of this performance is to revive the circus scene through the presence of new creations and to introduce the audience to this type of art. Furthermore, their goal is to inspire promising young artists, and to introduce them to contemporary models of creative expression using traditional circus skills as a language.
‘Our mission is to develop the contemporary circus scene through new productions and education of new trainees. As pioneers of the circus in Novi Sad, we managed to acquaint the local audience with the possibilities of the new cycle through our guerrilla actions, we started the Circoneo school where we educate children and youth and organise open trainings for all age groups. In order to continue further, we need help regarding infrastructure, so that in the title year we see ourselves in our own space, which is fully technically and safely equipped and adapted to the practice of circus skills, education and presentation. In that manner, Novi Sad would become a regional centre for experimental and contemporary forms of performing arts, and we believe that this is the greatest legacy we can leave to our city with our work and commitment,’ concludes Dobrković.
The ‘Omaje’ performance is one of 42 projects that received funds in the Public Call to Novi Sad artistswithin the ‘Artists. Now!’ project aimed at strengthening cultural scene through a network of cultural stations, raising its capacities, decentralisation of culture and audience development.
The organisers ask all visitors to adhere to all measures in order to preserve their health and for better enjoyment of cultural content. Visitors are required to wear protective masks at all events. The maximum number of visitors to the events, which is currently 500 people outdoors, is controlled at all times.