Circus School

Circus School

  • China
  • 103
  • STC

The history of Chinese acrobatics dates back centuries. An art form that focuses on challenging physical limitations, acrobatics is the quintessence of China’s strength and power as a nation. At the Shanghai Circus school, students ranging in age from six to 15 must complete a seven-year programme before working as professionals. In a verité style akin to that of pioneers such as Frederick Wiseman, directors Jing Guo and Ke Dingding give us a rare and unfettered look at the intense daily regime of several students and teachers at this lauded institution as they prepare for a national competition. Xu Lu is a tiny 10-year-old girl who is part of the trapeze team. She is tossed through the air countless times a day even while injured. Cai-Ling, a 13-year-old boy, performs feats of flexibility and strength. He struggles to keep his weight down despite the extreme exertion of his training. Images of their punishing exercises are contrasted with the seamless beauty and precision of their performances, casting a new light on one of China’s most treasured commodities. Shannon Abel.

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