Dwarfs larger than life inside theme park

Sitting in a valley in southwest
China sits an unlikely and controversial theme park — the Little People’s
Kingdom of dwarfs.

Here, dwarfs perform in fairytale
costumes for tourists, drawing both curious crowds and a fair share of

For many of the employees, the park
is a rare opportunity to find work, and, as unlikely as it seems for men and
women doing daily spoof performances of Swan Lake in tutus, respect.

The park, near Kunming city in
Yunnan province, employs 108 dwarfs from across the country, who twice daily
gather on an artificial hillside to dance and sing for tourists.

As well as a host of dwarf guardian
angels, the fantasy world has a king, an army, a health department and even its
own foreign ministry, and all must pretend to live in a miniature hilltop
village of crooked little houses.

For $11.72 — not a small sum in
China — tourists can watch skits, sentimental group dances and acrobatics some
may view as more than a little reminiscent of medieval freak shows now deemed
politically incorrect in many parts of the world.

The show’s centrepiece, a farcical
rendition of Swan Lake, sees performers both male and female dressed in pink
tutus and pretending to be little swans.

The only qualification for
employees, whose ages range from 18 to 48, is to be shorter than 51 inches and
be fundamentally self sufficient.

Living together in a dormitory
designed to look like a cave, some residents say life in the park is a welcome
opportunity to be around others with similar experiences.

Facilities from sinks to light
switches are installed for people with a short stature in mind, offering
greater independence for people many of whom were once heavily reliant on parents
or charitable institutions.