Cirque Grande on display in New Plymouth gallery

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.

It's a fusion of colour, gymnastics and wow factor at Zirka Circus' new production which is currently touring New Zealand.

Cirque Grande is in New Plymouth until Sunday and clowns, acrobats, magicians, hoop diving, human pyramids, teeterboard and a 12-person bicycle display are all on show in the two-hour visual spectacular.

Jocelyn Spicer from Cirque Grande said the performers have all come through the Hebei Acrobatic Troupe and magic group in China, including the youngest performer, 8-year-old Pixie.

The contortionists from Hebei Acrobatic Trupe and magic group are part of the Cirque Grande.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

The contortionists from Hebei Acrobatic Trupe and magic group are part of the Cirque Grande.

"These girls have trained a very long time," she said. "They've all been through the circus school; it's their life."

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The girls, aged from eight to twelve, perform a number of contortion acts, including putting their legs back over their heads, one on top of the other. They seem to enjoy their travelling circus life, doing correspondence school around practising every day, Spicer said.

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.

"They're always happy, always singing...Some of them are from poor parts of China, so it's good for them to get the experience. They think it's grand here; they can see the sky, there's paddocks to run in.

"They seem to thrive."

The girls, who completed four years of circus school and then do the circus for two or three years, are trained by two married couples who are also in the show, and the act evolves over time, she said.

Pixie, 8, is one of the contortionists.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Pixie, 8, is one of the contortionists.

One of the couples, Max and Sophia, perform their own breathtaking routine, her balancing a glass on a pole in her mouth while her husband lifts her and stands on a semi-circle ladder.

The troupe also performs at schools, and the kids are "in awe", Spicer said.

"You can see the girls' stage presence...They know where they're supposed to be at a certain time.

Max and Sophia also coach the young contortionists act.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Max and Sophia also coach the young contortionists act.

"When you go to the schools, the more you clap and cheer, they know they're doing a good job and they appreciate it, the girls."

Cirque Grande opened on Thursday, September 14 at the Pukekura Raceway and will continue until Sunday, September 24. Tickets are available online at cirquegrande.com, on 021 CIRQUE 2 or via Ticketek and start from $29 for adults.

Bottom to top: Xena 12, Sara 11, Amber 10 and Pixie 8 perform their contortion act.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Bottom to top: Xena 12, Sara 11, Amber 10 and Pixie 8 perform their contortion act.

The circus finishes on Sunday.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

The circus finishes on Sunday.

Cirque Grande circus is in town for the rest of the week at the Pukekura Raceway.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Cirque Grande circus is in town for the rest of the week at the Pukekura Raceway.

The contortionists practise their display.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

The contortionists practise their display.

 - Stuff

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