If I asked you to picture a circus, what would you see? Maybe some multi-colored big tops, elephants snacking on a bag of peanuts, a couple of clowns, and maybe an acrobat or two. The National Circus of the People’s Republic of China is nothing like what we would typically imagine a circus to be; in this circus picture high-flying spectacles, amazing acts of juggling and balance, colorful displays of human movement, and a celebration of an ancient art form that combines beautiful tradition with a modern desire to be astounded.
For decades, this circus troupe has been at the forefront of innovation and creativity when it comes to circus acts. The history of the Chinese circus is shrouded in tradition, beginning about three thousand years ago and believed to have been a branch of ancient Imperial court performance. Growing on that foundation of national tradition, the National Circus of the People’s Republic of China has been performing for over sixty-two years, and has been an inspiration to circuses and circus acts across the globe. In the 1980s, the group helped to reshape the concept of a “circus” into a performance that no longer relied on animals, and helped coach other groups, such as Cirque du Soleil, in different acts like Balancing Chairs, and Bicycle and Chinese Poles. It was through their leadership that the circus began emphasizing human talent and performance.
Today, the National Circus of China reflects its modernity just as much as it embraces its past. Hailing from the bright and ever-growing metropolis that is Beijing, this group encompasses the bright lights and colorful artistry evident in the city in every single one of its acts. From acts like “Straw Hats Juggling” and “Group Contortion,” to showcases of human skill and concentration like “Grand Flying Trapeze” and “Girls’ Balance With Bowls,” we’re also reminded of the beautiful skyline created by Beijing’s masterfully crafted skyscrapers, which often look like intricate contortions themselves. Beijing is also an example of a city embracing its history while also pushing forward into the future, as evidenced by the unique combination of traditional Chinese architecture alongside innovative and modern buildings.
From their amazing acrobats and performers, to the national pride they encompass when they perform, the National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China redefines what we think of when we hear “circus,” all while giving us a visual spectacle unlike anything we have ever seen, and that we’ll not soon forget.
Tickets are available by calling 1-800-WHARTON, visiting online at www.whartoncenter.com, or by visiting the Wharton Center Ticket Office in person. Specially discounted $15 student and youth tickets are available; don’t miss your chance to see this historic and dazzling group.
For more information, and to buy tickets, check out: http://www.whartoncenter.com/events/detail/perking-dreams
– By Wharton Center student interns Stephanie Archambeau and Miranda Madro. Both students at MSU, Stephanie is a senior and Miranda is a junior.