Hunan acrobats wow audiences cities
The Chinese Hunan Acrobatic Art Theater broke records for the number of audience members during its three-month tour in over 70 cities in North America.
From Sept 1 to Dec 13, the Hunan Acrobatic Art Theater toured the United States and Canada, performing 102 shows of The Journey of Dreams, an acrobatic drama combining magic, martial arts, music and dance.
The world- renowned troupe has thrilled 200,000 audience members and gained rounds of applause from the international crowd.
The tour has broken the record for the largest international audience in the history of Chinese acrobatic troupes touring abroad.
“Our tour debuted at the Orpheum Theater Vancouver, a flagship theater with 3,500 seats. On the first night, all the seats were taken,” said Zhao Shuangwu, CEO of the Chinese Hunan Acrobatic Art Theater.
“Even after the curtain dropped, many audience members were still there making rounds of applause. It was impressive.”
Behind the success of The Journey of Dreams tour was two years’ preparation and careful planning.
Production started in 2014 and reached the stage in 2015. Compared with most acrobatic shows, The Journey of Dreams was wellwritten and has a complete storyline. It was inspired by both Chinese and Western culture.
To meet the tastes of a Western audience, the show applied ballet and gymnastic arts as well as modern theater techniques in lighting and sound effects.
To make the plot easier for foreign audiences to understand, the script and performance were constantly adjusted, adding extra challenges to the performances.
“Every theater differs. We have to change our script to suit the theater’s conditions but keep the content understandable,” said Zhao.
“Usually, we have five days to load our equipment and set up the stage, but during the tour aboard, we usually had four hours to set up.
“The schedule was very tight, and our crew was exhausted. They sometimes had to check into the hotel at midnight but leave at four in the morning.”
Thanks to a well-planned touring route, the show has made the traditional Hunan acrobatic arts more accessible to a larger audience.
Of the troupe’s 102 shows, 15 were performed for students, the youngest of which were in their first year of primary school.
“We toured in the mainstream theaters and universities of North America,” said Zhao. “More people can see into our traditional arts, and it has helped our troupe to build an international name.”
In recent years, the Chinese Hunan Acrobatic Art Theater has been exploring different ways to improve itself, including collaborating with international theaters.
In 2012, it performed with the Kitchener- Waterloo Symphony from Canada and explored new ways to present acrobatic arts.
This December the troupe performed a collaboration show, Les Secrets de Xing, with a circus academy in France. It was the first time the Chinese Hunan Acrobatic Art Theater worked with a foreign circus academy.
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