Skilled performers will be reaching new heights as the Chinese State Circus soars in Seaburn all this week.
It took two days to erect the 2,000-seater big top in the recreation ground, where performers will put on daily shows.
Many of the 32 performers, which includes contortionists, jugglers, acrobats and a lion dance, have trained in their art since they were young, attending Circus School in China to perfect their skills.
Company manager Said Debbach said Dynasty, the circus’ new show, was very demanding for the performers, but is equally as rewarding.
“It’s amazing what they can do with their bodies, from balancing on their hands and juggling with their feet to somersaulting through the air. It takes your breath away.
“Many of the performers have trained for this since they were four-years-old. They go to Circus School where they live, train and eat, and only have one day off a week. They dedicate their whole lives to this.”
He added: “We get a great response from the audience and the kids love it. It’s got a bit of everything, from comedy to the traditional lion dance and, of course, the Shaolin Warriors who are very popular. The children’s faces light up, it’s a very magical experience. They come up to us and say they go to gymnastics and you can see them at the end doing cartwheels on the grass. It’s nice to think we can inspire future performers.”
Among the performers is contortionist 20-year-old Cao Lei from Dalian in China.
Hers is one of the most gruelling of routines and requires hours of stretching exercises each day.
Cao has been training for her role since she was eight-years-old. Like the other performers, she tours for nine months of the year and returns home for the remaining three months.
She said: “It’s very demanding but I really enjoy touring around the UK. We get to see some beautiful places and the people are really friendly and I like trying all the different foods. I also love being able to show audiences what I can do.”
•The Chinese State Circus is at Seaburn Recreation Ground until Sunday, September 10. Show times are Tuesday to Friday at 4.45pm & 7.30pm; Saturday at 2pm, 4.45pm & 7.30pm and Sunday at 12 noon & 3pm.
Tickets are available on site at the Box Office, from 0844 4155228 (BT 10pp) or www.chinesestatecircus.com