By Jim Callicott
“I love New Orleans and I always will,” said Julie Creel as she discussed her two favorite places to live.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she added, “I love the Seymour area and the Smoky Mountains also.
I guess what I miss most about New Orleans is the food.”
Julie and her grandmother moved to the area six years ago (before Katrina).
“It was quite an adjustment,” she said, “going from swamps to mountains but, like New Orleans, there is so much to see and do in the area.”
Julie’s favorite pastime is going to Sevierville and Pigeon Forge with her grandmother.
“I love all the activities there,” she explained. “My favorite show is Cirque de Chine. I’ve seen it four times already this year.
“The two little guys are my favorite characters. They are not only funny, but very good acrobats to be so small and young.”
The two “little guys” Julie referred to are Cheng Di, 14, and Miao De Chun, 11. Both portray clowns, on stage and off.
Cheng Di has been an acrobat for six years and Miao De Chun has been performing for four years.
Both of Cheng Di’s parents were performers and now both are coaching acrobats in Chongqing, China, where this troupe is located in the off season.
Cheng Di said he did not like studying in regular school so he opted for the acrobat training.
Miao De Chun’s parents wanted him to become an acrobat which makes him a natural fit as he loves the spotlight, applause and laughter.
Both boys engage in an amazing act called “Foot Juggling,” where they are literally juggled and tossed about on the feet of bigger acrobats.
It took over a year to learn to perform this feat and is almost unbelievable even when you witness it. They are involved in just about every male act performed on stage.
Both of the young men are dressed as clowns, but Miao De Chun is easy to recognize due to the ponytail in the middle of his head.
In Chinese, it’s called a “Bian”, which literally means “hair held together.” It’s also referred to as “cocke tail” as it resembles a rooster’s tail.
The troupe’s make up and costume manager insists that he wears the strange hairdo at all time, both on stage and off.
Also, when you see a Panda Bear wandering around the theater lobby, that’s Miao de Chun doing what he likes to do best; hug people. And the hugs are warmly returned.
Bring in the clowns
By Jim Callicott