China’s National Circus and Acrobats set to make Las Vegas debut — PHOTOS

With multiple Cirque du Soleil shows to see up and down the Strip, Las Vegas audiences are more than used to the idea of seeing a circus without animal acts.

But a few thousand years before Cirque du Soleil, the all-human, no-animal circus formula surfaced in China.

The National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China are still following that tradition — as locals will see for themselves when the circus makes its Las Vegas debut Friday at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall.

“To put it simply, Chinese circus doesn’t use animals in their acts, while the Western circus does,” explains Baojin Deng, the troupe’s artistic director, in an email interview from somewhere on the circus’ 3½-month North American tour.

It’s also probably safe to say that most Western circuses don’t get their inspiration from opera.

But the Chinese circus’ current production, “Peking Dreams,” also incorporates elements of Peking Opera — notably “eye-catching costumes, music and theatrical elements,” Deng adds, “to make the experience even more enjoyable.”

Some of the segments presented during the show tell a definite story. 

“Aerial Silk” traces a Peking couple’s courtship from acquaintance to friendship to love — as the duo dances on colored silk, expressing tender sentiments, high above the stage floor.

Or in “Straw Hats Juggling,” wedding guests send the title headgear flipping and spinning.

The circus’ bicycle-stunt act even has an official Peking Opera source, “The Generals of the Yang Family,” in which female performers, costumed as female warriors, execute their tricks.

Other “Peking Dreams” routines take their cues from China’s imperial past.

Forbidden City settings figure in “The Drunken Beauty” (featuring the title character, the imperial concubine, swinging on a trapeze while, beneath her, palace maidens spin plates) and “Contortion With Carpets Spinning, which depicts the emperor and his maids drinking wine and dancing. (That is, before the palace maids sway and twirl, combining classical Chinese dance with contortions and carpet-spinning.)

Modern-day Beijing’s breakneck pace, by contrast, inspires “Hoop Diving,” in which performers somersault and twist through two, then five, then six hoops.

Umbrellas, hula hoops and and Chinese yo-yos also get their turn in the spotlight, before the climactic “Balancing on High Chairs,” which symbolizes China’s Great Wall.

Whether cast members “perform solo or in a group, all” the moves “require strength, flexibility and concentration,” Deng emails.

All of which have been part of the performers’ lives for years.

“In China, acrobatic performers train daily on our core skills: handstand, tumbling, flexibility and dance,” she notes. “They are also expected to be skilled in other aspects, such as juggling.”

Founded in 1958, the National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China now recruits its performers from “graduates of the art schools or professional circus schools,” according to Deng. “They start studying from the age of 8 or 10.”

But it wasn’t always so.

“Many years ago, traditional acrobatic troupes in China were family-owned,” she points out. “Performers were from families and they roamed the countryside.”

Some think China’s circus traditions evolved from imperial court performers, similar to court jesters in medieval Europe. Others contend that the circus began as a folk art before becoming popular with the ruling classes. (The first written records of Chinese circus date back 2,000 years.)

Either way, the ancient Chinese came to call the circus “the show of a hundred tricks.”

By now, a lot more than a hundred tricks have made it into the repertoire of the National Circus and Acrobats.

Some of those tricks have collected awards at circus festivals around the world. And some of them have been performed in other shows, including Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus and Tokyo Disney’s Cirque du Soleil Theater.

And now, Las Vegas audiences can catch up with the Chinese circus’ brand of artistry.

“We are pleased to see that more and more American people like Chinese acrobats and are interested in Chinese culture,” Deng comments. “We hope to entertain audiences across the United States with our artistic innovation.”

— For more stories from Carol Cling go to reviewjournal.com. Contact her at ccling@reviewjournal.com and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like