China Daily (Hong Kong)

Hebei cities to juggle circus festival for global audience

- By XU LIN xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

The 18th China Wuqiao Internatio­nal Circus Festival will be held between Sept 28-30 in Shijiazhua­ng and Cangzhou, Hebei province, with various online and offline events.

Thirty-five acrobatic shows from 18 countries and regions, including six from China, will be performed during three online galas, competing for awards at the biennial festival judged by a committee of 17 experts from home and abroad.

Meanwhile, 15 well-selected domestic circus performanc­es from North China will be held during another online gala.

The opening and closing ceremonies will take place offline in Shijiazhua­ng and Cangzhou, respective­ly, with top-ranking domestic acrobatic performanc­es that fully represent Chinese culture and spirit. It will be livestream­ed online.

While the Guizhou Provincial Acrobatic Troupe’s diabolo performanc­e has costumes and stage designs featuring local wax printing, Hebei Provincial Acrobatic Troupe has created a new show to celebrate the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

“We’re honored to be part of the festival. Our show has combined acrobatics and magic with advanced technology, such as promovemen­ts,” jection, to demonstrat­e our warm welcome to the Olympics with acrobatics,” says Wei Yinshuan, head of Hebei Provincial Acrobatic Troupe.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the domestic performing arts market greatly, including acrobatic shows.

“Due to the pandemic, the audience limit for an acrobatic performanc­e is about 50 to 70 percent, but that means it’s almost impossible to make a profit. I’m grateful to the performers who’re still sticking to it,” he says.

To prevent any outbreak of COVID-19,

domestic troupes from mediumand high-risk regions and overseas troupes are not invited to the festival.

The local government­s of the two cities will take rigid prevention and control measures during the festival.

They will disinfect public areas and conduct emergency drills in advance, with ambulances and medical workers on-site. For the opening and closing ceremonies, performers and audiences will undergo temperatur­e checks and scan QR codes to show their travel

history and health status.

Nine experts from home and abroad will conduct online discussion­s in a forum to exchange views about the developmen­t of the circus industry amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang Rongli, deputy head of Hebei provincial culture and tourism department, says it will promote the festival online via both traditiona­l and social media.

It will cooperate with short video platforms to promote the online galas and invite veteran circus artists to perform online, such as displaying

magic tricks, and communicat­e with viewers.

She says the flexibilit­y of online broadcasti­ng allows audiences to enjoy acrobatic shows that require large installati­ons of equipment, which were previously difficult to transport overseas. For example, the Russian acrobats will perform on a specially designed tank.

“These acrobatic shows are combined with modern aesthetics and arts, and are a real eye-opener. There are breathtaki­ng and challengin­g acrobatics, as well as touching stories showcased via body she says.

In 2006, the acrobatics in Wuqiao county, Cangzhou city, was added to the national list of intangible cultural heritage due to its deep-rooted history that dates back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Official figures show that, until the end of 2020, Cangzhou had 112 acrobatic troupes, six acrobatic art schools and eight corporatio­ns that manufactur­ed acrobatic props. Over 30,000 people work in the city’s acrobatics industry, with an annual total output value of about 200 million yuan ($31 million).

Wang Xiaoling, vice-mayor of Cangzhou, says the internatio­nal circus festival has boosted the city’s acrobatics industry greatly.

It helps to recruit and train circus talent, encourages artists to create new shows for the festival, serves as a platform for internatio­nal communicat­ion, and promotes integratio­n of circus culture and tourism.

The Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School has trained over 500 students drawn from more than 40 countries across Europe, America, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Wuqiao Acrobatics World, an 4A-level scenic area that offers various traditiona­l Chinese circus acts, such as stepping barefoot on a ladder made of sharp broadsword­s, is a must-visit for those who travel to the city, especially with children.

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 ?? PHOTOS PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY ?? Left: A Russian performer does a handstand. Middle: The Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School and Cangzhou Acrobatic Troupe perform a flagpole act during one of the festival’s online galas. Right: A Ukrainian acrobat balances delicately on a large “magic cube”.
PHOTOS PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY Left: A Russian performer does a handstand. Middle: The Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School and Cangzhou Acrobatic Troupe perform a flagpole act during one of the festival’s online galas. Right: A Ukrainian acrobat balances delicately on a large “magic cube”.

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