Zirka Circus comes to town for nine days
‘‘Goodbye cruel world, I’m off to join the circus’’ was an early rock ‘n roll song. Parents be warned. From reports about the Zirka Circus that has rolled into town and opens a nine-day season on the Railway Land on Thursday, the captivating performers will make your kids want to run away and be circus performers too.
The animal free circus enthrals with its international troupe of tumblers, gravity defying acrobats and the universal slapstick of clowns.
Tour manager Benjamin Hemi likens the Cross the Ocean themed touring show to a surreal dream experience.
‘‘It’s a mixture of acrobatics, tumbling, juggling and comedy. There’s always a sense of ‘I can’t believe they did that’, but there’s a lot of skill that goes into it.’’
While members of the 18-strong performing troupe hail from all over, a number of the performers are from an international circus school in China’s Hebei province.
The school trains children as young as 5 years old, and standout performers from 9 years can join international tours.
‘‘Many families bring their children to the circus school to give them a life that they otherwise couldn’t give them.’’
The average age of the current New Zealand troupe is 15 or 16, Benjamin says.
They tour for a year before a new show is redesigned and recast.
‘‘These kids love to put it on. It’s a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun – an experience like nothing else.’’
The children continue their circus training on tour, and do their schooling by correspondence.
‘‘They train every morning. They stretch and then do a handstand every morning for 10 minutes on top of a stool, and review their balance.’’
The training pays off, drawing incredulous gasps from the audience which then become claps and cheers whenever a particularly difficult or dangerous looking stunt is completed.
On its fourth tour of New Zealand, Zirka is the first contemporary circus to be owned and operated in New Zealand by a woman.
Owner Jeni Hou’s family has been in entertainment for three generations.
Tickets start from $19 and are available by phoning 0800 2 ZIRKA, bookings@ zirkacircus.com. The show runs until March 20.