Thumbelina of the Kazakh circus

"What a lovely flower! - said the woman and kissed beautiful variegated petals. At the same moment, something clicked at the heart of the flower and it has opened. It was, in fact, a large tulip, but a real girl sat in there. She was very little, only an inch- tall and very pretty. Therefore, she was named - Thumbelina. Suddenly, she took off her silk belt, threw one end on a moth and flew away".

This excerpt from a fairy tale "Thumbelina" by Danish writer H.C. Andersen turned into reality nowadays. Similarly tiny and cute girl was born six years ago in a simple Almaty’s family. The parents did not expect that a circus will determine the fate of Marina Starodubova. When the baby began to grow up, her parents had to make an important decision, which club to choose, what talents to develop. Mother took Marina to different sections, starting from the drawing class to classic dance, but nothing attracted the girl and she, shrugging her shoulders, pulled her mother to leave.

Once, when the Kazakh State Circus celebrated its 40th anniversary, Marina with her mom have appeared on a festive show. When the aerialists Alia and Daulet Dosbatyrov appeared on the arena with a famous act "Rose", where the plastic, skill and risk are mixing together, a magic atmosphere reigned in the hall. Marina froze and in the same moment she decided to become a gymnast, soaring under the big top. Since then, she began to live with this dream.

After a long persuasion of the girl to let her learn the aerial gymnastic, her mom Elena went to the circus. However, Zhusupbek Elebekov’s College, working with a circus, accepts children only from the age of 14. Marina was only five. An acquaintance advised the parents to contact directly the famous Kazakhstani aerialist Kurmangali Dosbatyrov, the founder of the Dosbatyrov circus dynasty. Following his creative path, he taught many air acrobats.

Not everyone could become an aerialist. This profession is for special people, who are willing to risk their lives for an art. This genre is based on the demonstration of unusual skills of the body, exceeding the ability of an average man. It is not enough to have a flexible body and a desire to act. A strong character, capability to work and artistic abilities are needed here.

When Kurmangali Mukashevich heard about Marina for the first time, he did not agree to "take" her for a long time. The child was so small. But seeing the firmness of intentions and a great desire in the eyes of the girl, he gave up. Later he realized that Marina is a true prodigy. Today, the girl performs very complex tricks, which not every adult gymnast can reproduce. She is very stubborn, and even if something does not work right away, she always tries to finish the exercise off.

Marina easily joined the team of Dosbatyrov dynasty, since she came for the first training. Colleagues treat her with trepidation and do not stop to amaze her abilities.

Six days a week Marina trains in the arena with "Uncle Kolya", so she calls Kurmangali Dosbatyrov. She is an exemplary student, so she unconditionally listens to her main teacher. Warm-up begins with a jogging, 10 rounds in one side of the arena and the same in another. Then stretching, bridges and splits. It is very important to pull socks, it creates a special grace and beauty. After the body warmed up, a young gymnast starts with the most interesting part: she takes pink straps, narrower than for adult gymnasts, into her little hands, and Uncle Kolya raises her in the air to hone the learned tricks on a height. Coach teaches her to be independent, it is very important that gymnast relies only on himself during the work. Therefore, the girl does everything herself in the arena.

Despite her young age, Marina has a solo act already. It was staged by Daulet Dosbatyrov, aerialist and director - choreographer. For a small actress a Thumbelina character was created. As in a fairy tale, the act starts with the fact that Marina is in the flower, on which a butterfly sits. Waking up, Thumbelina frighten the butterfly away, and flying up, it lifts Marina on the straps to "heaven". The act is accompanied by music that was written by a talented young compositor Arthur Orenburgskiy. Gentle sounds like drops emphasize the elegance of the flight, in which the girl shows not only her beauty, charm and traditional lift, but also the power routine that is common for experienced gymnasts.

Now, Marina is the youngest aerialist in the world. Just a few such prodigies exist, and it makes her unique. Now, Daulet with his father prepares the young talent for the international children's competition, which will be held in Monte Carlo. It will be a great event in Marina’s life and the first serious competition.

Aerial Gymnastics is an original genre, beautiful and very dangerous. Not everyone is willing to devote his or her life to this art. However, there are people who have no other way. After all this talent is bestowed by God. There is no doubt here that a little star rose in the heart of the Kazakh circus, whose main victories are still ahead on her way.

Text: Maria Kazakova 
Photo: Carl Uetam

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