Irish woman enjoying life as a performer after attending famous acrobat school
SHIJIAZHUANG — At 11 am, when her classmates have completed their morning exercises and started their academic courses, Jessica Doolin is the only person in the training room, practicing with her hula hoops.
The Irish woman knows she has to work harder than her Chinese peers to become a successful acrobat.
Doolin, 27, is the oldest student at the acrobatics school in Wuqiao county, Hebei province, known as the Chinese “hometown of acrobatics”. Her classmates range in age from 7 to 16.
“Being a performer has always been my dream, so it’s never been too late to realize it,” she said.
Doolin is the youngest of four siblings. She previously worked as a hairdresser in Dublin.
“Working at the same place and doing the same thing all year long was dull,” she said, saying that she longed for a job where she could travel.
At the age of 22, she saw a hula hoop performance at a music festival which reignited her dream to become a performer.
“I just fell in love with it, and decided to become a performer,” she said.
Initially her mother did not support her decision, partly because she worried her daughter was too old to learn and may get injured.
But Doolin insisted. She quit her hairdressing job and for two years, she studied with the performer she met at the music festival.
“When my mother saw my show on stage for the first time, she finally agreed,” she said.
As she was older than most entry-level acrobats, Doolin was not accepted at European acrobatic schools, which require years of experience.
So she searched the internet and registered at a theater school in Beijing in 2015.
“I know China is the best for acrobatics, so I chose to come here.”
She studied in Beijing for eight months before a friend who had been to Wuqiao introduced her to the town’s school.
Doolin ran out of savings and she returned to Europe, performing in hotels and theaters for five months. She saved enough for the 30,000 yuan