Circus princes overcome fear of satisfying audiences

June 24, 2018 - 09:00

Acrobatic artists and brothers Giang Quốc Cơ, 24, and Giang Quốc Nghiệp, 29, were placed fifth in Britain’s Got Talent 2018 recently with their death-defying, head-balancing act of walking across tiny platforms suspended high off the ground during the show’s finale on June 3. Mỹ Phương and Phương Mai speak to them about the challenges they faced and their feelings during and after the show.

Circus heros: Quốc Cơ (right) and Quốc Nghiệp came fifth in Britain’s Got Talent 2018.
Viet Nam News

By Mỹ Phương & Phương Mai

Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to compete in Britain’s Got Talent 2018?

Quốc Cơ: After breaking the world record for the “most consecutive stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head” in Girona, Spain in 2016, we received invitations from many international talent competitions. But we turned them down. The organisers were surprised and didn’t know why we had turned down such programmes.

Quốc Nghiệp: We wanted to choose the most famous competition. We didn’t expect a victory, but just wanted to promote the Vietnamese circus and people to the world. Thanks to our fans’ support and encouragement, we accepted the invitation from Britain’s Got Talent.

Inner Sanctum: How long did you prepare for the competition?

Quốc Cơ: Six months. Actually, we didn’t spend all the time to practise, because we have our own families. But we made every effort to practise as much as we could.

Inner Sanctum: A day before the competition, the organisers made a mistake in the stage design for your performance. What happened?

Quốc Nghiệp: We saw that the background screen featured Chinese culture. We questioned the organisers and they said they thought Asian culture was similar. After our explanation, they recognised the differences in Vietnamese culture.

Quốc Cơ: We worked with the organisers. If they had not changed the background, we would’ve cancelled our competition.

Inner Sanctum: In the finale, Quốc Cơ held Quốc Nghiệp on your head and walked up tiny platforms before completing a long jump to a bigger platform to finish your performance. How did you prepare for the act?

Quốc Cơ: We were ready for the final act. It was highly risky doing the last jump.

We had always used a safety cable during rehearsals. However, in the final, we got rid of the cable so we could have a more exciting performance. When we did the jump, all the judges and the audiences in the auditorium were speechless and stood up.

A day before the finale, Quốc Nghiệp had an accident and got hurt. I was scared and sad. We thought all our work would be useless.

People may think that our performance was too dangerous. Actually, it was extremely risky. On my head was not only my colleague and my friend. He was my sibling. If I caused my brother to fall, I would feel pain and sorrow.

We prayed a lot before the finale. Everyone prayed for us. If we failed, both of us would have been broken-hearted. Quốc Nghiệp’s life depended on our performance. It was a jump of fate.

I was under deep pressure at this time. I forced myself to concentrate on protecting my brother. Everything was OK as his feet were on the platform. Fortunately, our performance was successful.

Inner Sanctum: How did you overcome your fear?

Quốc Nghiệp: A day before the finale, I had an accident during practice and thought all our work would be hopeless. I was afraid that I would not be able to move due to the injury. Although my arm was severely hurt, we tried our best because we had huge support from Vietnamese audiences. We wanted to project a positive image about Việt Nam to the world.

In the rehearsal, we decided not use a safety cable but I was worried about my previous fall. We decided to get rid of the cable in the finale. It worried me a lot.

During the performance, I did not dare blink. I gave my life to my brother. I tried not to think (about anything) at that time. It was a long time before Quốc Cơ was able to prepare for the jump. If it worked, I felt that I would be grateful to God for our luck. If not, I would have never blamed my brother. My wife said that thousands of people in Việt Nam were praying for us.

Inner Sanctum: When facing danger, people often think of their families and then panic. How about you?

Quốc Cơ: I was under pressure from my family, particularly my wife, who is always worried about my health. I had to console my wife and tell her that we were not doing dangerous things, and we would succeed. If we were lucky, millions of Vietnamese would welcome the miracle we made.

That was why we chose our Vietnamese army uniforms for our costumes. We wanted to show off our belief. We were ready for war, not a real one, but a war of emotion. We wanted the world to know about Vietnamese patriotism and our iron will.

At the beginning of the competition, people believed that we just had a typical act (balancing my brother on my head without walking up stairs) because we had been performing in the circus for years. They didn’t know that after passing one round, we had to do better in the next round.

At first, people may have not worried much about us. But when we entered the semi-final and then the finale, people were afraid that the performances would be too difficult and dangerous.

My father always stood by us. He prepared and checked the safety cable. He wanted to ensure his sons’ health and lives. My wife called me and spoke about ensuring my safety. I had to tell her that my performance was not difficult and I could do it.

My feelings blew up when seeing my parents, my wife and son at the airport after returning from the UK on June 6.

Inner Sanctum: What about Quốc Nghiệp’s injury after the fall?

Quốc Nghiệp: I came to see the doctor right after returning to Việt Nam. He helped me feel better and reduce my pain.

Quốc Cơ: We can’t control the danger. We just do our best to avoid it and try to give our best performance for the audiences. It was Quốc Nghiệp’s fourth fall.

After returning, we wanted to host a live show at the end of this month to show appreciation to our fans. But we’ve cancelled it because of my brother’s injury that occurred during practice. VNS