Volcano Child - A YA Novel in Progress by Candy Gourlay
Two weeks ago, Mouse decided to dig his way to London.

06 January 2008

An Acrobatic Childhood in Shanghai

And a happy new year to you all from Shanghai!
Shanghai Acrobats
We caught a performance by this acrobatic troup in an old theatre populated by tourists from all over China. To say the show was amazing is an understatement. I've never seen a more appreciative audience, gasping and squealing at every incredible moment.

Crowd-pleasers were these two contortionists who smiled placidly as they bent their bodies into impossible shapes.
Shanghai AcrobatsLike this:
Shanghai AcrobatsThen there was the boy who performed feats of balance on a tower of chairs.
Shanghai Acrobats
His colleagues kept adding to the chairs until they stood 10 high!
Shanghai Child Acrobats

It was truly amazing.

At the end of the performance, there was a brief burst of applause as the troup bowed then they all stepped back politely as the audience began to quieue to have souvenir pictures taken with them.

The acrobats stood patiently, applauding after every photo was taken. It was obviously part of the job.

Not for them, wild adulation and flowers at the stage door.

Coming away from the performance, heart still pounding, there was one thing that stayed with me.

These performers - they were all children.

The contortionists must have been 10 at the youngest. The boy acrobats - and there was a whole troup of them - were teenagers, voices still unbroken.

My Westernised sensibilities bridle at the thought of rigorous training, daily performances and lost childhoods. And yet my Eastern heart chides me for this soft reaction.

Given the realities and extreme inequalities of China, an acrobat's life and the future it assures on the stage may be as good as it gets for some.

Other childhoods, other places.



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