Monday, 6 February 2017

Chennai: From 16th January - 11th February 2017 the UK’s original and foremost performance-parkour company; The UPG Team, will tour Tamil Nadu in collaboration with the Chennai based Parkour Circle. Together they are working to produce INDIAN STEAM - a show, a tour, a project, a legacy - An official UK-India 2017 Year of Culture event, supported by the Arts Council of England’s Reimagine India Fund and the British Council.

The tour takes the form of five residencies with local partners based in Coonoor (17 - 20 January), Coimbatore (21 - 24 January), Namakkal (26 - 29 January), Puducherry (31 January - 3 February) & Chennai (6 - 11 February). In each place the company will create, perform, teach & offer opportunities for anyone to try Performance-Parkour for themselves.

The INDIAN STEAM collaboration partners two companies as they progress a new art form - performance-parkour; the combination of dance and physical theatre with the art of Free-Running. The UPG Team have been performing, teaching and touring their work over 5 continents for the last 10 years. The team includes dancers, actors, stunt performers, and one of parkour’s co-creators. Parkour Circle are a new organization founded in 2015 by members of the well-established Chennai Parkour community. They teach, perform and share their discipline across Tamil Nadu. Later this year they will accompany the UPG Team on a tour to Indian Diaspora audiences’ resident in the UK. Together the two companies undertook a research and development from Ooty to Chennai by rail in January 2016. Over 10 days they taught nearly 600 participants through 17 workshops with 11 partner organizations. Now they return with a steel scaffold train of their own upon which they will dance, leap, entertain and teach. Do not miss this chance to see world class performers create something entirely new just for you!

On their support for the project, Peter Heslip, Director, South East, Arts Council England said: “We’re really excited to be able to support The Urban Playground Team as they raise the profile of British arts and culture abroad… I am really pleased to see how The Urban Playground Team is infusing Indian culture into its ‘Steam’ performance to create ‘Indian Steam’. We look forward to seeing them strengthen their international connections, creating a bigger global audience and establishing new commercial opportunities.”

Alan Gemmell OBE, Director British Council India said: “India and the UK have years of shared history and the UK-India Year of Culture seeks to promote this spirit of cultural partnership. This marks the culmination of four years of Re-Imagine, which was designed to build new creative connections between India and Britain that celebrate, connect and inspire. Throughout the year, we will be bringing together major UK and Indian institutions and artists of all fields to showcase British and Indian creativity and strengthen cultural ties.” 

Notes to Editor

What is Parkour? The art of overcoming obstacles with safe, efficient and fluid movement. Also known as FreeRunning, PK & L’art du deplacement, Parkour was created by a group of nine young men in the early ’90’s. Collectively known as ‘The Yamakasi’ the originators have since split to create individual organisations. Malik Diouf, one of the Yamakasi, is a core member of the UPGTeam and has been touring with the company since 2006.

About Performance-Parkour: Far from being a display of parkour, performance-parkour (also known as 2PK), is the use of parkour’s core movement and values as the basis for creating new choreography. The UPGTeam have pioneered this new form and in 2013 with the support of Arts Council of England they created an international network for fellow enthusiasts and companies. You can see more at

About Re:Imagine India: Reimagine India is a cultural exchange programme investing in creative collaborations between art and cultural organisations in England and in India. Its purpose is to create new work and to build sustainable networks and partnerships between artists and cultural leaders in both countries, as well as to develop an intercultural dialogue and strengthened cultural relations based on this exchange of ideas, knowledge, work and artistic practice. It is funded by the Arts Council of England with support from the British Council. Hundreds of companies from across the UK applied, and only 12 were selected for this second, final round.

About INDIAN STEAM: In 2015 the UPGTeam created a performance called STEAM. The show sees a group of ‘urban explorers’ discover the skeletal remains of an old locomotive and bring it back to life through a series of scenes inspired by: the Silent Movies of Buster Keaton, the Wild West, the First World War, James Bond, and a dystopian future of inner-city commuting. It is a funny, fast paced show that has toured the UK for two years. INDIAN STEAM will see this show arrive in Conoor, and then follow the train line across the planes from Coimbatore, through Nammakal to Puducherry and finally Chennai. In each location one scene of the UK show will be replaced with a new, Indian alternative inspired by the particular relationship with the train which exists here, and reflecting Tamil Nadu’s popular culture. Alongside this development, Parkour Circle and the UPGTeam will teach local young people, and create with them unique ‘Local Line’ scenes which will be performed only once, where they are made, by these young participants. When the ‘INDIAN STEAM’ arrives in Chennai, audiences will see an all-new entirely Indian show reflecting the unique journey the two companies will have undertaken together, inspired by all of those young participants and audiences they will meet along the way. Later in the year, Parkour Circle will travel to the UK where, again with the UPGTeam, they will present this new show to Indian diaspora audiences there.


UK India 2017 is a year-long celebration of the long-standing relationship between the two countries, which will see a vast programme of cultural exchange and activity take place in cities across the UK and India. Working with a huge number of partners and institutions in both countries, the British Council is developing a programme of cultural activity which will connect and inspire people in both countries; and strengthen and celebrate the UK and India’s cultural ties.

The year-long programme will celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of both countries and see cultural exchange across the areas of art, culture, science, academia and business.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.