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Chinese Acrobatics

An Introduction to Chinese Acrobatics

Acrobatics is a pearl in the treasure house of the traditional Chinese performing arts. It enjoys a long and rich heritage thanks to its long history of over 2000 years. It is one of the art forms most popular among the Chinese people. In broad sense, acrobatics is a general designation of various exceeding skills the art includes all special performances and was called "miscellaneous art" and "varied skills and music" in ancient times.

Chinese acrobatics has long stressed the basic training of the waist and legs, and has attached great importance to the skill of standing on the head and hands as evidenced by many Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) brick paintings, murals and pottery figurines which feature headstands, handstands and somersaults. By 300 BC, such skills as walking on 3-meter high stilts and juggling 7 daggers at a time had been developed in China. Acrobatic shows became important amusements frequently enjoyed at palace banquets as well as celebrations of the common people.

In the long course of development, the Chinese acrobatic art has formed its own style, which is characterized by feats of strength and daring performed cleverly, precisely and accurately, and the ability of retaining balance in motion.

Currently, based on the inheritance of tradition, continuing innovations have been made to modern Chinese acrobatics and created distinctive characteristics, bringing a special charm to the Chinese performing art. The present status of Chinese acrobatics reflects the industry, resourcefulness, and undoubting courage of the Chinese people.

Traditional Acrobatic Acts
Lion Dance
This evolved from an old folk dance in China. In the dance, there are two types of lions: big lion (played by two acrobats) and small lion (played by one man). They 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.

Traditional-Style Conjuring
This is an ancient Chinese traditional performance unique in form and style. With the help of a big robe and some pieces of cotton cloth, the conjurer brings forth many large and small glass bowls filled with water and live fish as well as a brazier with burning fire. While taking off the robe, the conjurer again produces a big glass water bowl with fish in it at the end of a somersault. The unique aspect is that the conjurer produces water and fire without wetting or burning his robe.

Hoop Diving
This is an item developed from "Leaping through Rings on the Ground". It was known as "Swallow Play" more than two thousand years ago because the performers imitated the flying movements of swallows as they leapt nimbly through the narrow mat rings. It was also called "Dashing Through Narrows". The performers are graceful and agile in their movements and demonstrate incredible dexterity.

Wushu (Chinese Traditional Group Gymnastics)
With movements of somersault, pulling, jumping, kicking and various postures, it has become an acrobatic symbol. The agility, precision and rhythm of acrobat movements convey a sense of vigor, strength and beauty.

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.

Gymnastics On Double-Fixed Poles
"Pole Climbing" is one of the main traditional acrobatic numbers in China; vivid descriptions date back 1,000 years. On the basis of "Pole-Climbing", new acrobatic movements such as jumping from one pole to the other, swift descent and many others have been added.

Acrobatics is an interactive art form. Whether you are old or young, educated or illiterate, you can appreciate it as long as you can see. There is no language barrier and cultural border. You can enjoy the fantastic Chinese acrobatics show at Beijing Tianqiao theatre. When you watch the show, you will be strongly impacted both mentally and physically. It is truly and unforgettable experience.     

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