By Jim Callicott
Ever see Elvis riding a lawnmower? Okay, so maybe it’s not the real Elvis but it is an interesting story. Rocky Davis has called the Seymour area home his entire life, even when he was living in Charlotte, Los Angeles, and other American glamour spots performing his Elvis tribute act.
Until he retired from performing, there were two distinct sides to Rocky; the Elvis side and the side for which he is known locally; the landscape man.
Rocky began his Signature Landscape business when he was still in junior high school. Today, 17 years later, he still retains 12 of his original customers.
Somewhere along the way, Rocky figured out that with the right haircut and clothes, he resembled Elvis, plus he possessed a great singing voice, sounding a lot like Elvis. In 1996, he began his Elvis Tribute act which led to his participating with some major artists including Priscilla Presley and performing at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.
During the Elvis years, he kept his Signature Landscape business going with his dad overseeing the operation when not on the road with Rocky. These days, he’s back to landscaping, his first love, full time.
This year he began landscaping the Smoky Mountain Palace in Sevierville, home of the Cirque de Chine Chinese acrobatic show.
Rocky said he has seen the show about 12 times.
One of his favorite acts is the foot juggling lady, Yanan Zhai, who is, as fate would have it, an Elvis fan. The two enjoyed a lighthearted meeting in her dressing room before a recent show.
Yanan Zhai is one of the featured performers at Cirque de Chine. Her amazing act includes juggling a parasol, a huge vase and a wooden table with her feet.
Yanan Zhai is one of four daughters in her family which was financially difficult on the parents. They couldn’t afford to send all four girls to regular school, so they send Yanan Zhai to acrobatic school. She so impressed the teachers that they asked the parents to send the other two oldest girls to acrobatic school as well. Today, all three are acrobats.
It was her teacher’s suggestion that she learn the foot juggling act. She stated it took about six months to perfect balancing the wooden table and it fell on her “countless times.” Learning to balance the parasol was the hard part as it is so light and hard to control. She spent two years learning that part of the act.
This is Yanan Zhai’s first year at Cirque de Chine after spending four years in Branson. “I really like it here,” she said. “The air is so fresh and very beautiful mountains.”
The audience really likes her too as evidenced by the applause, whistles and shouts. To which Yanan Zhai simply replies, “Thank you, thank you very much
Elvis and the foot juggler
By Jim Callicott