Brothers Giang Quốc Cơ and Giang Quốc Nghiệp (top) will attempt to break their world record of most consecutive stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head on December 23 in Spain. Photo courtesy of the Giang brothers
HÀ NỘI Giang Quốc Nghiệp jumps and lands upside down, supported by the hands of his brother, Giang Quốc Cơ. He then spins on top of Cơ's head. Nghiệp begins walking around while his brother tries to keep his balance.
The duo train for their act – with Nghiệp balancing vertically atop his brothers head – for up to six hours a day in preparation for another career-making feat.
Cơ and Nghiệp, internationally known as the Giang brothers, will attempt break their own world record of most consecutive stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head, climbing 90 stairs in 52 seconds in 2016.
This time they will attempt to climb 100 stairs in less than a minute at the same venue – the Girona Cathedral, in Catalonia, Spain – on December 23.
"The Circus Arts Foundation sent us an invitation in November. Due to social distancing measures, we did not practise together for months. We were worried we would not be able to manage our act. So we did not accept at first," acrobat Cơ told Việt Nam News.
Giang Quốc Nghiệp (top) and his brother Giang Quốc Cơ set a world record in Spain in 2016. Photo courtesy of Giang brothers
"However, it is a rare chance which could be once in lifetime, so we didn't want to miss it. It is another opportunity to shine, for us, and for Việt Nam. So we decided to take the challenge," he said.
Youngest Việt Nam's Merited Artists
Cơ was born in 1984, while Nghiệp is five years younger. They are the third generation of a family steeped in martial arts and acrobatics in HCM City.
Both of them were familiar with circus performances at the age of seven and they turned professional in 1999. Despite the home-grown training they have become the most famous Vietnamese acrobat artists.
The talented pair have dominated the local circus scene and earned fame through international competitions, with awards at the 10th International Circus Festival 'Circuba 2011' in Cuba, the 13th International Circus Festival in Italy and the 13th International Circus Festival in China, in 2011.
The Giang team have been involved in acrobatics for nearly two decades. Photo courtesy of the Giang brothers
They are the youngest artists to be awarded the Meritorious Artist titles. Cơ took the honour when he was 28 in 2012 and Nghiệp when he was 26 in 2015.
In 2016, the two artists became the world record holders after they scaled 90 stairs of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in 52 seconds with Nghiệp balancing atop Cơ's heads.
"We broke the former record set by Chinese pair Tang Tao and Su Zengxian who climbed 25 stairs in 2014. Breaking their record was a piece of cake for us. We can do it easily with our eyes closed," said Cơ.
They then took part in the German talent show “It's Showtime” and claimed second place.
A year later, they set the second world record of the fastest time to descend and ascend 10 stairs while balancing a person on the head (blindfolded) in 53.97 seconds in Italy.
Among their performances, their performance on Britain's Got Talent 2018 may be the most impressive, which made them internationally famous after finishing fifth during the show's 12th season.
"It is the greatest stage and we will remember it forever. We risked our life there to prove that Việt Nam's circus art is as good as any other country in the world," said Cơ.
In London, the Giang brothers blew the judges and audience away with their incredible act of strength and balance which saw one carrying the other on his head as walking up and down stairs in the audition.
In the semi-finals, the same act was performed but this time Cơ walked up and down a staircase blindfolded.
With one brother on top of the other's head, the pair moved across a set of six wobbling podiums without a net to save them, which received a standing ovation from the crowd in the finals.
The Giang brothers at the Britain's Got Talent 2018 finals. VNA/VNS Photo
Their act was so impressive to the judges that Simon Cowell called them the "greatest showmen" while David Walliams believed the pair had "incredible artistry" and "showmanship". Alesha Dixon added that the pair was like "two gods up [on the platform]" and Amanda Holden felt like she could have "just seen the winners of [BGT] 2018!"
The Vietnamese representatives did not win the show but their performance was praised because of the brothers' strength, discipline, effort, training and talent.
"We created this act and have practised for nearly 20 years. Balancing like this requires a strong physique and skill. We have to discuss a lot and practise very carefully. But while performing, we talked to coordinate and make sure our act is going right," said Cơ.
But danger is part of the deal. Through their two-decade circus career, they have suffered many accidents and injuries that even threatened their lives.
"We always train hard with high intensity so injuries are unavoidable," said Nghiệp who was once advised to stop performing because of neck problems.
"Doctors said next time I fall, I could break my neck. I sometimes thought that I could not continue any longer. However, circus is our passion and we set high targets. We have to live with injuries and pain while overcoming fear and danger. To be successful everyone must try hard, sacrifice and try our best. I want to prove to everyone in the world that human possibilities are endless."
The Giang brothers in Fenghuang Guzhen, China, in 2019. — Photo courtesy of the Giang brothers
The two brothers also helped their two three-year-old sons to set Việt Nam's record of the youngest brothers balancing on their fathers' hands for one minute and 20 seconds last August.
They say the Spanish event will be their last time attempting a world record and want to make it as good as possible.
"Walking one step than the previous result will be a new world record. But we want to make 100, which shows our will, bravery and spirit," said Nghiệp.
"In Spain, we will do our best and focus 100 per cent so we will not regret it if we miss out on the record." VNS