Last year (2012) there was a plethora of circuses visiting Johannesburg – or circus themed shows, one at virtually every casino, one at The Barnyards and one at Joburg Theatre. One of the best of these was Chinese Marvels, part of the Emperors Palace celebration of the Chinese New Year. This was a marvellous display of acrobatics, tumbling, cycling, juggling, magic, slack wire balancing and other items of unbelievable skill and dexterity. Audiences went crazy with enthusiasm and Emperors Palace decided to bring the China National Acrobatic Troupe out again.
Fantasy Beijing is the name of the 2013 production,a variety show which includes acrobatics, magic, martial arts and folk music. My friend and I were entranced by this lovely family friendly show. The origins of Chinese acrobatics have been lost in time, but it is certain that Chinese variety shows demonstrating balancing and contortion feats have existed for thousands of years. There is a record of a grand acrobatic show being staged for Emperor Wu of Han in 108 BC for foreign guests. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 the art form has been growing in respectability. I remember a Chinese circus visiting South Africa when I was still at school in the seventies. The China National Acrobatic Troupe have won several medals at various acrobatic competitions.
I was entranced with all the wonderful feats, particularly the ballet dancer who once again did unsupported one footed en pointe balancing on her partner’s shoulders for a length of time which the average Aurora would NEVER be able to achieve.
This fabulous family entertainment, Fantasy Beijing, was on at the Emperors Palace from January 23 to February 3. I caught the last show.