Grande Ice Cirque
In China acrobatics is a time-honoured and much loved tradition. Across the country, young children dream of being plucked from obscurity and thrust into the dazzling and glamorous world of professional acrobatics. But for the millions who aspire to become professional acrobats, only a handful will ever get the opportunity to realise their ambition.
And for those who are lucky enough to be chosen, life in a professional troupe means years of physical and emotional stress in return for the privilege of performing live.
But one Chinese acrobatic troupe places even greater demands on its young performers. Its director and coaches have pioneered a show that may be unique and spectacular, but also exposes the performers to a whole new set of dangers.
The Grande Ice Cirque –the only troupe in China that performs its shows on ice.
The troupe is based in the northern city of Harbin: China’s ‘ice capital’. For residents of Harbin ice skating is second nature, but the Heilongjiang troupe hopes to take ice acrobatics to the rest of China – and then the world.
Cui Peilong is a young man living his dreams. He’s a team leader in the troupe and much is resting on the shoulders of this talented 19-year-old. Peilong is a graduate of the Wuqiao School of Acrobatic Arts in Hebei province. He’s an accomplished acrobat, but performing complicated routines on ice has been a whole new learning curve for him.
Sixteen-year-old Chen Yu is struggling with the opposite problem. Only two years ago, she was a national figure skating champion. Now she must learn to combine her skating talents with the challenging art of acrobatics.
For Cui Peilong, Chen Yu and the rest of the Heilongjiang troupe, the time for practice is almost over. They are about leave their Harbin base for a week-long season in Taiwan. This is the first time the troupe will perform its unique brand of acrobatics outside mainland China.
Anticipation and excitement are running high. The troupe arrives in Taipei ready to wow the locals. Despite a lack of rehearsal, the performers are confident that the pressure of a live audience will force them to lift their game.