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Shanghaiwhere old meets new

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Shanghai Circus World

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Contortionists

The producers of ERA hoped to create a successful and permanent act that could run at least until the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The show opened in September of 2005 and in its first few months garnered over $1 million in ticket sales. The show is still going strong and the permanence allows for more elaborate lighting and set effects as well as constant changes to make the show better.

Courtesy of Jing Qu

Male Balancers

In a more traditional Chinese acrobatic show, the acrobats would do individual acts. Acrobats often work together, but each act would be separate and followed by another act. In ERA, the story of all the individual acts is interwoven together to create one grand story.

Photo courtesy of ERA

Flying Dancers

Interwoven into the dramatic show is a heartwarming love story that comes to a climax during this flying ribbon performance by Chen Zhumiao and Hua Jing. The acrobatic pair met for the first time in 1995 and fell in love. Their relationship makes for a truly moving performance, their real life love easily translating into the act for the audience.

Photo courtesy of Jing Qu

Jar Juggler

If you ever wonder why the Chinese are so fabulous in the gymnastics portion of the Olympics, it’s most likely because the country’s acrobatic tradition reaches more than 2,000 years into the past. Many of the tricks performed by the acrobats in ERA, such as this jar juggler, originated from ancient daily life. Bowl flipping and unicycle riding (sometimes at the same time) are some of the other feats you can expect to see.

Photo courtesy of the China National Tourism Office

Balancing Glasses

At the same time, the producers and directors kept the potential for an international audience in mind. The theme of the show, the intersection of time and understanding the past while looking into the future, is meant to be universally understandable.

Photo courtesy of Tom Thai

Hoop Jumping

Despite receiving French-Canadian direction, ERA has stayed true to its Chinese roots. The setting and acts really focus on the collision of old and new in Shanghai. Shanghai is a perfect example of being between the past and the future, and to represent this, the acrobats and their acts float back and forth through time during the show. Whether it’s intentional or not, even the acts reflect the show’s theme through combining traditional acrobatic elements such as hoop jumping with modern stage technology.

Photo courtesy of Jing Qu

Motorcycle Cage

The idea for ERA was conceived by the China Performing Arts Agency, Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Circus World, but the producers knew that they needed to breathe some new life into the traditional form of Chinese acrobatics in order to be successful. They brought in French-Canadian director Erick Villeneuve who has created multimedia shows for 20 years and has worked with the famous Cirque du Soleil. As a result, crazy and breathtaking acts like the motorcycle cage have been mixed in with traditional acrobatics acts.

Photo courtesy of Le Grand Portage

Wheel of Time

ERA – The Intersection of Time, the Circus World’s most popular act, is a multimillion-dollar production that combines the tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the glitz of modern technology. The premise of the act is the acrobat’s quest to understand the dimension of time. One of the highlights of the show is watching the acrobats as they attempt to keep their balance to perform on the ever-rotating wheel of life.

Photo courtesy of ERA

Home to the renowned Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, this circus world complex has been touted as “China’s number one circus world.” Following in the tradition of modern day circus acts, the acrobatic field has a rotating stage, an elevating stage and a picture frame stage that is surrounded by 1,638 seats. Though the most common acts to be found here are the ERA and Happy Circus performances by the acrobatic troupe, the circus world plays host to magic, dancing and musical performances. Also within the complex is an animal house with elephants, tigers, lions, chimps, horses and pandas.

2266 Gonhexin Road
Phone: 86-21-66521930
Public Transport: Metro Line 1 to Shanghai Circus World station

ERA Performances: Daily 7:30 p.m., additional show on public holidays
Admission: $12-87
Phone: 86-21-66525468

By Shandi Grimsley

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