Peking Dreams plunges into Krannert this Wednesday

By christina como

This Wednesday, acrobatic performers will dive into Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China will perform the show “Peking Dreams” at 7 p.m. The production was featured in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and since 1958, the troupe has performed acrobatic shows and traveled to more than 50 different countries.

Peking Dreams showcases circus and acrobatic feats like hat juggling, ring diving, feet juggling and martial arts, as well as traditional circus acts like hula hooping, balancing and solo traipsing.

“My favorite aspect of the show is every element, from the acrobatic skills to the music, costumes, lighting, setting and so on. I think that every detail is important to the successful show,” the troupe’s artistic director, Baojin Deng, wrote in an email.

Like most Chinese acrobats, Deng was 12 when she began acrobatic training. Six years later, she graduated from the arts school and became a professional performer.

“It was hard in the beginning, but I got used to the training,” Deng explained. “With time, I liked the feeling of being on-stage. That’s why I love the acrobatic work, no matter whether as a performer or a director.”

The performers practice six hours daily in China, regardless if they have a show that evening. On tour, they practice one to two hours before the show.

“The routine is one part of my career and life, so I don’t feel tired when I work with the troupe,” Deng said.

Chinese circus companies differ from American ones because they forgo animal performances and concentrate on human-performing acts.

Kirsten Malec, who is a sophomore in Engineering and a member of Illini Juggling and Unicycling Club, is looking forward to the troupe’s performance.

“(Juggling is) something you can do just about anywhere with anything, and it always provides entertainment,” Malec said.

Alexander Page, junior in Engineering and another member of the club, learned how to juggle during his junior year of high school.

“It never gets old,” Page said. “The act of juggling has much more depth than people think. There are different props, different tricks, and thousands of ways to pass with other jugglers. There’s even a ton of mathematical theory behind juggling patterns. Juggling has the same elements of enjoyment, complexity and personal achievement that other sports and activities have.”

Page pointed out that the troupe doesn’t just focus on prop work.

“Most of the stuff they do is acrobatics, which our club doesn’t focus on that much,” Page said. “I saw a few diabolos (Chinese Yo-Yo’s) being tossed around, which are cool, but no club passing or ball juggling.”

Deng wrote that acrobatics reflects a specific part of Chinese culture.

“The best way is seeing our show. Good or not good, seeing is believing.”

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