The circus comes to town
The Hebei Acrobatic Troupe will perform at the Kolizei Concert Hall Dec. 26-Jan 7.
Published: December 26, 2012 (Issue # 1741)
The Chinese Circus program includes acts titled “Lions on the Ball,” “Umbrellas” and “Exotic Bikes.”
This festive season, the traditional program of performances of “The Nutcracker” and one-off concerts will be enhanced by a visit to the city by the Chinese Circus.
This will be the first local appearance by the world-famous Hebei Acrobatic Troupe, which was founded in 1970. Seventeen young women will present a show titled “Seventeen Flowering Roses,” named in honor of its captivating performers. Despite their young age, the girls are all circus award-winners.
“The average age of the artists is from 16 to 20 years old,” said Lyudmila Bragina, director of the St. Petersburg Russian Ballet Theater, which is bringing the Chinese troupe to the city.
“It is a great honor in China to perform in a circus. Children start learning this art from four or five years old and do everything they can to appear in the ring. Becoming a member of a Chinese professional acrobatic troupe is as difficult as becoming an Olympic champion,” she added.
The Chinese Circus program includes acts titled “Lions on the Ball,” “Umbrellas,” “Exotic Bikes,” and “Icarian Games.” One of the most popular stunts is that known as “A Hundred Flying Plates,” a traditional trick based on the skill of rotating saucers (up to four in each hand) on long sticks. Another impressive act is an acrobatic number using burning candles. During this performance each girl holds five candlesticks with seven burning candles in each of them. In order to hold these props while performing acrobatic stunts, feet are used as well as hands.
The show features high-wire acts.
For every circus number, the performers change costumes, meaning more than 100 outfits are used during each performance. This attention to detail throughout a three-hour enchanting show attracts both children and adults around the world, despite clear differences between Chinese and European circuses. For example, there are no clowns or animals in a Chinese Circus, except for lions and dragons played by human performers.
The circus of the Celestial Empire is one of the most ancient in the world. The originality of Chinese circus art is the result of a combination of martial arts, ancient philosophy, culture and high discipline. Artists observe traditions that are 4,000 years old, therefore each performance has a symbolic meaning. For example, the plates in the legendary skill of rotating saucers on long sticks symbolize the sun, and the artist represents an intermediary between the sun and the people.
As a result of their intensive training, Chinese acrobats are considered unsurpassed in the art of possession of the body, and a visit to the Chinese Circus is generally an unforgettable spectacle.
The show looks set to be a hit with Petersburgers of all ages, and best of all, children under three can attend it free of charge.