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Hebei hosts major circus festival
( 2003-10-28 10:07) (China Daily)

The Ninth China Wuqiao International Circus Festival runs October 31 to November 9 in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province.

With the theme of "Friendship, Exchange, Flourishing and Development," the festival attracts nearly 400 acrobats from 14 countries and regions, all competing for the Golden Lion awards.

Co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Hebei provincial government, the gala includes opening and closing ceremonies, competitions and acrobatics performances, a circus, and exhibitions of circus painting and Chinese acrobatics.

Started in 1987, the event is the oldest and largest of its kind in China, and is widely regarded as one of the three most famous circus festivals in the world. The other two are the Monte Carlo Circus Festival and the Paris International Circus Festival.

During the past 16 years more than 300 programmes from over 40 countries and regions have appeared on the festival's stage.

This year, a total of 28 performances selected from nearly 100 entries are scheduled, including 22 performed by overseas artists.

"As the festival has become more famous, more and more world-level circus performers have expressed strong wishes to participate in it," said Ding Wei, director with the Bureau for External Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Culture.

"We are ambitious to become the Asian centre of acrobatics and circus," he added.

The programmes feature artistry, thrills, and innovation, including Russia's Springboard, Democratic People's Republic of Korea's aerial-flying skills, Colombia's high-wire walking, United States' swinging trapeze artist Elena Panova, Brazil's contortion troupe and the Chinese trapeze troupe "Chasing After The Moon." Many of these acts are past award winners.

"All these programmes are the most recent productions, representing the international lineup of circus performers and acrobats," said Sun Shibin, vice-governor of Hebei Province and vice-director of the festival's organizing committee.

"China's programmes are taken from the golden prize winners in the last year's national acrobatic contest," Sun said. "They have made some breakthroughs in terms of acrobatic forms, skills and the degree of difficulties."

The jury ?formed by 11 celebrities in the acrobatic circle, nine foreign and two Chinese ?will offer the winners three Golden Lion Prizes, six Silver Lion Prizes and nine Bronze Lion prizes. The top prize is 50,000 yuan (US$6,039).

Besides circus performances and competitions, there will be some other activities to enrich the festival.

Meanwhile, the third World Circus Forum will be held from November 3-5. Circus artists and scholars from both home and abroad will come together to share their views on new theories and the future development of their industry.

The animal acts performed by Hebei Circus Troupe and some other Chinese counterparts will add spice to the festival.

Participants will be invited to pay a visit to Hebei's Wuqiao County, known as the hometown of China's acrobatics, to know more about the history and development of acrobatic arts and savour Chinese cultural tradition.

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