Chinese circus is a feast for the eyes, with non-stop action and brightly colored costumes on performers who seem to defy the laws of physics with acrobatics, contortion tricks, juggling acts and balancing feats. Cirque Mei comes directly from Hebei Province in the People’s Republic of China, bringing with it a company of 40 elite circus activists and acrobats performing many of the most popular Chinese circus routines, including Hoop Diving, Lion Dance, Collective Bicycle Skills, Flying Meteors, Foot Juggling with Umbrellas, Female Contortion and the Ladder Balancing Act.
Chinese acrobatics has a long and proud history going back some 4,000 years. It developed from people’s everyday lives, using instruments used in daily life like tables, chairs, jars, plates and bowls. Wushu, which is traditional group gymnastics, and the Lion Dance come from folk sport and games. Like so much of folk lore, Chinese acrobatics is the art of working people and was not considered theater-worthy. That has changed as skillful performers amazed audiences and led to a resurgence of interest in the national arts in China.
The Lion Dance evolved from an old folk dance in China. In the dance, there are two types of lion, the large, played by two acrobats, and the small, portrayed by one. They perform traditional movements of lions like rolling and jumping and portray the lion’s strength and agility as well as the playful side of the King of Beasts.
Hoop Diving developed from the “Swallow Dance” of some 2,000 years ago where the acrobats imitated the flying movement of swallows as they leapt through the rings.
In Flying Meteors, the performer swings glass bowls that move like meteors in the sky. Using rope and two glass bowls filled with water, the performer does forward rolls and backward somersaults without spilling any water.
This spectacular performance is a colorful and lively celebration of the Chinese circus arts and a delight for the entire family.