Hu­nan ac­ro­bats wow au­di­ences cities

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS CANADA - By FENG ZHIWEI and REN XIAOJIN in Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince

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.

Con­tact the writ­ers at fengzhiren@chi­ cn

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