Recently, a photographer documented the day in the life of a “professional mermaid” at a marine park in Shanxi province.
Lu Shanshan waves at the passing tourists.
Born in 1991 in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, Lu Shanshan has shown much affection for dancing since she was little. After graduating from the dancing department of an arts college in Shaanxi province, she decided to work as a mermaid at a Marine Park in neighboring Shanxi province.
Lu told the photographer that she has had five years of working experience. She’s able to swim several meters deep in the water while twirling about gracefully, all in just one deep breath.
Lu said breath-holding is the most basic skill needed to be a professional mermaid, and she often practices doing it when she has free time. She said she can hold her breath for around one minute or so.
Lu usually pulls out six different acrobatic moves during the five-minute long mermaid performance. “It tests the performer’s physical strength as well as one’s mentality,” she said.
“The job is no easy at all. In China, most of the masters need to teach students step-by-step and hand-by-hand.”
Lu has faced some embarrassing situations during her performances. Once, her costume got stuck on some nearby rocks, and she said she’s been bitten by turtles a few times. Spectators burst out laughing during awkward moments.
Lu is photographed resting by the rockeries to adjust herself.
Lu seizes moments to take a rest on the rockery when she feels weak after performing a few rounds.
Lu rests her neck.
She works from 10 a.m. in the morning to five p.m. in the evening, but during the Spring Festival, she performed 21 rounds at the most in one day. After long hours of working, her body feels sore and all she can do is go home and rest.
Lu is taking a lunch break.
Lu said that she isn’t afraid of the hundreds of fishes and turtles in the water. Actually, the small fish are no longer afraid to get close to her.
After work, Lu will take a shower and apply some skin care product.
“When it rains, my joints ache. To some degree, my joints serve as a weather reporter,” Lu told the photographer. “So, the first thing I do when I return home is put a towel on my legs.”
“I like the job very much because I get to work with water and animals. When I get older, I won’t be able to swim any more,” said Lu.
Tired Lu goes home.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]