Reaching for the stars: Mi Lu's 30-year career with acrobatics

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You might not have heard his name if you have no idea of acrobatics, but Mi Lu is indeed well known to everyone in Chinese acrobatic and international circus circle.

He graduated from Beijing Foreign Languages Institute (currently named Beijing Foreign Studies University) in 1984 and started his career in the Bureau of External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture. In November, 1988, he began to serve in the Section of International Affairs of the Bureau, and work on the selection and recommendation of Chinese acrobatic acts for international circus festivals & competitions, thus starting his career with acrobatics.

Mi Lu participated in the 30th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain as a judge in January, 2014. [File photo: provided to China Plus]

International Circus Competition: A Prominent Part

Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (World Circus Festival of Tomorrow)

Monte - Carlo International Circus Festival (Festival International du Cirque de Monte – Carlo), founded in Monaco, 1974 and World Circus Festival of Tomorrow (Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain), founded in France, 1977, are widely recognized as the most influential international circus competitions.

In January, 1989, Mi Lu visited Paris for the first time to participate in the 12th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain as the interpreter dispatched by Ministry of Culture to serve the Chinese delegation. It was his first time to meet Mr. Dominique Mauclair, founder and then president of the Festival, as well as the first person to act as the bridge between Chinese acrobatics and international circus and help Chinese acrobatics go global. When it comes to Mauclair, nicknamed "Lao Mo" (literally "Old Mau") by Chinese acrobats, his close friendship with Mi Lu, which bridged their significant age gap, unavoidably comes as one of the topics.

Since January, 1989, Mi Lu has participated in Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain for 28 straight times.

Mi Lu in Monte Carlo in February, 2014. [File photo: provided to China Plus]

In recognition of his extensive and profound cooperation with the Festival and his irreplaceable role in the work, the Organizing Committee of the Festival conferred the golden award on him in the 26th Festival in January, 2010.

Festival International du Cirque de Monte – Carlo (Monte – Carlo International Circus Festival)

Mi Lu participated in Festival International du Cirque de Monte – Carlo for the first time in January, 1993, and since then he has cooperated with five art directors of the Festival. By now he has worked on the selection and recommendation of 52 Chinese acrobatic acts for the competition of the Festival, with six of the acts being the winners of the highest award, Golden Clown, from 2008 to 2018.

In November, 2004, H. S. H. Rainier III, Prince of Monaco approved the decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Culturel (Knight of Order of Cultural Merit) awarded to Mi Lu. The ceremony was held in January 24, 2005 in the Prince's Palace of Monaco (Palais Princier de Monaco), where Albert, then Hereditary Prince of Monaco (currently H. S. H. Albert II, Prince of Monaco) conferred the Order on Mi Lu, thus making him the first Chinese to have received such a special honour.

During the past 30 years Mi Lu has worked as the jury member for 13 times for nine international circus and magic competitions, including the 25th Festival International du Cirque de Monte – Carlo in 2001, Monte – Carlo Star Magic (Monaco) in 2001, Premier Rampe de Monaco in 2003 and 2007, Moscow International Youth Festival – Contest in Circus Art (Russia) in 2006 and 2018, Festival International du Cirque de Massy (France) in 2007, Festival International du Cirque de Val d'Oise (France) in 2007, 2008 and 2012, Moscow International Circus Festival in 2001 (Russia), the 35th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in 2014, and the 18th Festival International des Artistes de Cirque de Saint Paul lès Dax (France).

Prince Albert II awarded Mi Lu with the order of Cultural Merit(Monaco) at the Prince's Palace of Monaco on January 24, 2005. [Photo: provided to China Plus]

Mi Lu's insight, outstanding work and prominent role in the international circus circle have been proved by the fact that Chinese acrobatics have drawn global attention with the outstanding performance in the major international circus competitions, especially in Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain and Festival International du Cirque de Monte – Carlo. He has played an irreplaceable part in Chinese acrobatics' going global towards the family of world circus, thus winning the respect from everyone in this circle.

International Performance Market: A Successful Strategist

Besides international circus competitions, Mi Lu has also worked with various international performance agencies and contributed significantly to the international commercial performances by Chinese acrobatic acts, among which the most classic case is his cooperation with Cirque Phénix (Phoenix Circus) in France.

Currently he is working with IMG Artists (the subsidiary to IMG, a global management company), his new partner based in United States to organize a tour performed by Shandong Acrobatic Troupe in North America from September to November, 2018, creating significant income.

Making high-level acts the projects of commercial performance, and presenting a feast for circus fans worldwide, Mi Lu has turned out a successful strategist with his effective operation.

Direction of Creation: The Insightful Guidance

For 30 years dozens of articles by Mi Lu have been published in domestic newspapers and magazines, meanwhile he has been interviewed by the press many times, and attended influential national and international circus forums and seminars on art exchanges. His speech is regarded as "indicator of world circus development".

With his experience of various international circus competitions, as well as his own appreciation and taste for circus art, Mi Lu has raised his critical ideas on vital issues such as the relationship between traditional and new circus, combination of circus and other art forms, limitation on over packaging and the development of acrobatic education.

Some leading figures in the Chinese acrobatic circle highly value Mi Lu's insight, saying they would listen to Mi Lu's speech and read his articles not matter how busy they are.

Mi Lu workd as the jury member at the 17th Festival International des Artistes de Cirque de Saint Paul lès Dax (France)and presented the prizes to the performers who won Bronze Award. [File photo: provided to China Plus]

Circus Education: A Trailblazer

Dating back to 2004, Mi Lu was the guest teacher on acrobatic choreographing in School of Arts & Communication, Beijing Normal University. His lectures were always the most popular ones among the students. Realizing the fundamental role of education in the long-term development of acrobatics, he was the first one to suggest holding international acrobatic education forum in China, and participated in the organization of the 2nd and the 3rd Shanghai International Acrobatic Education Forum in 2012 and 2016.

What can be done in acrobatic education, and how? Mi Lu has always been thinking. He is open to new things and advocates learning from the world. In 1992 when he was working in France, he was invited to work as the only international jury member for the National Circus Schools Competition in France. Since then he has been keeping an eye on the circus schools in France, other European countries and North America, thinking about the correlation between education and children's interests.

Mi Lu has never stopped. After World Circus Federation was founded in 2010, with his efforts, China Acrobats Association became its member in 2013. The third Saturday of April is World Circus Day, and Mi Lu has been assisting Urs Pilz, the president of World Circus Federation in the organization of World Circus Day celebration activities for eight straight times in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Fuzhou, Changsha and some other Chinese cities. Now he is working on the preparation of the 4th Shanghai International Circus Forum to be held in late December, 2018.

For 30 years Mi Lu has participated in countless circus activities, witnessed more than 300 circus shows, and 90% of his oversea visits are related to circus.

He is widely recognized in the international circus circle, and trusted by many "big names" who have maintained cooperation with him in the contractual form.

Mi Lu (L) and Urs Pilz, the president of World Circus Federation in the organization of World Circus Day celebration activity at China National Acrobatics Troupe. [File photo: provided to China Plus]

In June, 2011, Mi Lu was awarded the excellent member by China Acrobats Association in both artistic achievement and morality.

30 – year dedication has made Mi Lu a trailblazer of knowledge and insight. Yet he is well aware that education takes long time. Much work remains to be done to enhance the education level of Chinese acrobatics. He has been calling on more Chinese acrobats to enrich their thoughts and follow the development of human civilization as well as the trend of the time.

Reaching for the stars, Mi Lu is indeed a trailblazer in Chinese and international circus circle, and he keeps going forward without hesitation.

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