Chinese circus theatre in Dubai

The East China State Circus bring 2,000 years of history to Madinat Theatre

Interview

The director of The East China State Circus tells Peter Feely what to expect when the show comes to town.

With more than 2,000 years of tradition incorporated into its show, The East China State Circus is promising elaborate multi-coloured costumes, aerial artists, acrobats and eye catching backdrops and effects when it starts its run in Dubai on Tuesday January 28. The synergy between the traditions of the Chinese circus and more modern elements are the reason the show’s director, Mr Fang Guoping, believes the concept remains popular throughout the world. The 24-strong dance troop’s run at Madinat Theatre coincides with the Chinese New Year celebrations on Friday January 31, where the country will mark the arrival of The Year of the Horse, which will involve a special parade through the souk, lion dancers and an array of Chinese cuisine.

What can audiences in Dubai expect when they go to see your circus perform?
We will be bringing skilful circus acts, attractive costumes, colourful backdrops and a breathtaking experience.

How do you recruit your performers and do they have to possess lots of different skills?
All of our performers are graduates of circus schools, which they join at an early age. We hire only the best and train them for a minimum of four years to ensure they reach the required level of professional circus performers.

The traditions of the circus go back 2,000 years. What parts of the show have you modernised and what traditional aspects have you kept?
We’ve kept some core acts such as the sculpture-contortionist act, the carpet juggling act and the stair act but we’ve modernised the format of the acts, dance sequences, opera shows, costumes, colours and designs and the backdrops.

What differentiates The East China State Circus from others, either in China or throughout the world?
Typically, state circus shows are pure circus shows but The East State Chinese Circus is an oriental [Eastern] production that combines both circus and culture.

Is there a strong musical aspect to the show and if so what sort of music can Dubai audiences expect?
There is an extremely important musical element – the show combines Eastern culture music as well as modern circus music.

Is there a part of the show which you’re particularly proud of?
I believe all of the elements of the show are very entertaining, but some of the key acts are the staircase, the drum and the blanket juggling acts.

Is there a story or a theme to the show?
The show is comprised of several sub-themes – I don’t want to reveal too much in order to keep the audience in anticipation of the next performance.

How did you become a circus director and how long have you been working in your job?
The position of circus director came as a natural outcome after several years of experience in the industry and my passion for producing a circus show that delights the public through a combination of culture and traditional circus.

Is traditional circus still popular in modern China?
Absolutely – it’s a very important part of Chinese culture.

What traditional celebrations do you follow personally for Chinese New Year and how are you celebrating this year?
We celebrate Chinese New Year and 2014 is the Year of the Horse. This year we will be celebrating with the tour in Dubai which is our first in the region. The entire cast is excited to be performing in this city.

Where will you be taking your circus next?
We have several enquiries from cities in Europe and North America, our show is constantly growing and we look forward to an exciting year of performances.
The East China State Circus runs at Madinat Theatre from January 28-February 1. Dhs150-170. 4.30pm and 7pm. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6546).

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