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Chinese Acrobatics, Great Performance Art in China


The history of Chinese acrobatics


As one of the traditional Chinese performing arts, Chinese acrobatics traces its history back to the Warring States Period. By the time of the Han Dynasty, the acrobatic art made great advance in both content and variety. Acrobatics were also part of village harvest festivals during that period. In the Tang Dynasty, the number of acrobats greatly increased and their performing skills improved a great deal.


The features of Chinese acrobatics


Chinese acrobatics feature the ability of retaining balance in motion. The ability of Chinese acrobats to perform rope-dancing stunts on a stack of benches placed on a plank and building pyramids on a free-standing ladder shows their superb skills at stabilizing themselves and retaining their balance in motion -- skills that require years of hard training and skills that reflect man's spirit of braving hardships and danger.



Chinese acrobatics also highlights the combination of great physical strength and quick and nimble somersaults. A veteran acrobat can show the unusual strength by using his hands and feet to lift four stone barbells of total 1000 pounds. Acrobats in the performance sometimes resemble fish swimming effortlessly in the water, sometimes like swallows drafting through trees and other times like butterflies dancing gracefully among flowers. Related acts fully demonstrate the skills of combining physical strength and somersaults to perfection.


Traditional Chinese acrobatic acts


Lion Dance: This evolved from an old folk dance in China. During the show, acrobats not only perform the various movements of the lion such as rolling and jumping, but also vividly portray the lion's strength and agility as well as the quiet and playful side of the lion's character.


Spring-Board Stunts: Through leaps and somersaults in the air, the acrobats perform graceful movements which give the audience an excellent demonstration of acrobatic art.


Tight-Wire Feats: It was called "Rope-Walking" or "Walking on a rope" in ancient China. The acrobat uses somersault dexterity, which is a basic acrobatic skill, to perform such difficult feats as cart-wheels and somersaults on a trembling wire.


Meteor Juggling: The performer swings glass bowls that move like meteors in the sky. The performer revolves soft rope with two glass bowls filled with water fastened to its ends, tossing it up and performing difficult feats such as forward roll and backward somersault and then catching it again and continuing to dance and turn about without spilling the water.



Modern Chinese acrobatics


Through ages the acrobatic performance has absorbed the essence of traditional opera, dance and Chinese martial arts. Modern Chinese acrobatics have set up a designing and directing system aimed at creating graceful stage images, harmonious musical accompaniment, and good supporting effects of costumes, props, and lighting in order to bring about a fully developed stage art.

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