Outdoor attraction

Updated: 2013-09-27 01:54

By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)

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To prevent Beijing National Stadium from becoming a white elephant after successfully hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, it is being used as an entertainment venue. Also known as the Bird's Nest, it is now running its resident show.

A show tailored for the Beijing National Stadium turns the venue into a huge wonderland — flying men fighting in the sky like Spider-Man, mermaids dancing in the pool and snow falling through a colorful cloud.

Outdoor attraction

The ongoing show, Attraction, combines music, dance, acrobatics and technology. Provided to China Daily

The ongoing large-scale outdoor show, Attraction, combines music, dance, acrobatics and technology.

It's the second year running for the resident show and another attempt at testing the operation of the stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, after it held the 2008 Olympic Games.

Attraction tells a romantic love story between a human and the goddess of nature. A devil, who is envious of their love, tries to break them up by tempting the human but her efforts fail.

"It's designed for the Bird's Nest. We want to add the element of nature in, so we turn it into a forest," says Lu Jiankang, director of the show.

The highlight of the show, says Lu, is the high-tech mixture of light and shadow to create a fantasy atmosphere. Ten laser projectors are on site to create colorful sprays with shining snow in the air.

Attraction, in Lu's words, is "a visual feast combining performances on air, land and water".

"It's China's O show," adds Lu.

Before the show, the production team visited Las Vegas to watch the O show by Cirque du Soleil. It's easy to identify O show's influence from the aquatic performance, stage design and acrobatics. But Bird's Nest is a larger venue and open-air.

The dancing mermaids are from China's national synchronized swimming team. And more than 10 flying men fighting in the air for about five minutes — the most thrilling part of the one-hour show — are martial artists from a martial arts school in Henan province. Actors from the school have been invited to perform in big shows including the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Five LED screens around the stage create the different vivid backdrops for the show, such as cascading waterfalls and a scene of a metropolis.

William Martin, founder of WMP, a British graphic design company, says the graphics they made for the show are the biggest ever among the large-scale shows they've participated in.

"It's very rare to watch such a large show in other places. China has the market," says Martin.

As the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Bird's Nest has to deal with common problems facing other Olympic venues in cities across the world — generating profit to sustain the tens of millions of yuan in expenses every year.

"The Bird's Nest is a legacy, but we have to admit it's also a financial burden," says Li Aiqing, president of Beijing State-owned Assets Management Company and producer of the show.

In 2012, when Attraction was shown to the public for the first time, they invited top-tier filmmaker Lu Chuan and big stars to take part in the show to attract public attention. But this year's show features young and new actors and actresses.

Li says as a resident show, Attraction needs to be financially sustainable. The equipment and stage materials are expected to be recycled. Meanwhile, they have abandoned the habit of big shows counting on a large number of performers. Instead, they will focus more on technology.

"We want to build up the brand of the Bird's Nest rather than just a venue for sports and tourism," says Li.