A Unique Circus Story in Guangzhou
Father, mother and daughter, together with their family members - 9 brown bears - came to Guangzhou to make a new home. Who are they? The Russian family is one of the international circus performers at the Chime-Long International Circus.
The Chime-Long International Circus, located in Guangzhou's Panyu District, has recruited over 100 foreign performers and hundreds of lovely animals from 10 countries around the world. A huge circus industry is booming in Guangzhou.
In 2006, the circus gave 400 performances and attracted nearly 10,000 spectators per day during the peak season and 2,000 during the off-peak season. With tickets costing RMB 120 and an average daily audience of 3,000, the circus generated sales in excess of RMB 100 million last year.
Circus performers have long-term job opportunities and high salaries. The food and freight for the bears was all paid for by the circus and each performer receives a salary between 6 - 10,000 RMB, much better than in their own countries.
In the circus industry, originality is important. This large-scale circus has a tropical forest background mixed with Lingnan culture. With a theme of love, harmony and gaiety, the circus set about attracting top-ranking international circus artists. Normally, artists will leave after two or three years and change to another circus.
"We conducted a survey which revealed that 40% of spectators would return and spectators always come with their family," said a staff member at Chime-Long.
To afford the huge costs of over 300 artists and 400 animals, a ticket of RMB 120 is not comparatively expensive and Chime-Long attracted millions of spectators in 2006, partly foreign spectators.
"To gain spectators' attention, a modern circus needs to be dramatic, fast and rhythmic. The perfect circus in my mind is a mixture of circus, opera and melodrama, like the famous CIRQUE DU SOLEIL in Canada which provides a happy time not only for the young but also the old", claimed Li Chi, principal of the Chime-Long Art Ensemble.
In Chime-Long, 100 foreign performers from 10 countries around the world live in a three-story building. They talk with non-standard Chinese, English or Russian, and have created a unique international circus community in Guangzhou.
(By Jessie,Alan Devey, photographed by Zhou Ya)