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Beautiful girl's juggling act

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

15:21, May 28, 2013

Phillips practices on a swinging ring at the school. (China Daily)

She has traveled halfway across the world to learn from the best teachers and she's working hard at balancing training to be an excellent acrobat, and her homesickness. Zheng Jinran finds out more in Wuqiao, Hebei province.

There is a lot of energy in the large training hall, with the swift figures of teenage students flitting everywhere. Their yells as they train fill the room. Amid the noise, a young brunette is lying on her back on a bench, totally focused on juggling a parasol with her feet.

This is the circus school in Wuqiao, a rural city in Hebei province.

Emma Phillips, 23, is from a city on the north island of New Zealand, and she was the only foreigner in the school until the recent arrival of a Finnish couple. She was also the only adult in a school where most of the students start training at the age of 6.

The oldest was only 17.

"People from the school and residents in town are curious about me, wondering why a foreigner will come all the way to a rural county and learn acrobatics. But I know what I want and I'll keep at it," she says.

"I will put the Oriental skills to Western music, and perform with a story for my audience."

She came to China in 2012, and has already been training hard for five months at the Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School in the small town famous for its circus arts in Hebei.

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