Acrobatic Art - Overview
Forms of Acrobatic Art
The Lion Dance evolved from an old folk dance in China. Thanks to the adaptation of the acrobats, it has become a very popular number with the audience. There are two types of lions in the dance: the big lion (played by two acrobats) and the small lion (played by one man). The performers not only perform the various movements of the lion, such as rolling and jumping, but they also vividly portray the lion's strength and agility while showing the quiet and playful side of the lion's character as well. Accompanied by the rhythm of traditional Chinese percussion instruments, the Lion Dance brings out a gay and festive atmosphere that is both vivid and jubilant.
In this act, two types of cycles are used: monocycles and bicycles. The acrobats, using the light gestures of the dance, adroitly showcase various beautiful postures. Amongst the variety of postures, the beautiful tableau of a peacock fanning its feathers is perhaps the best.
Diabolo is a traditional Chinese sport, and is a skill imbued with a strong national flavor. During festivals, people often express their jubilation by vying with one another in a game of diabolo. The performer spins the diabolo rapidly, twirling it around their body and throwing it up or passing it to another player with grace and dexterity. In the course of spinning the diabolo, the players often assume various acrobatic postures as well. Accompanied by traditional Chinese orchestral music, together with the roaring sound of the diabolo, an atmosphere of warmth and festivity is elicited.
This is an ancient Chinese traditional performance that is unique in both form and style. With the help of a big robe and some pieces of cotton cloth, the conjurer is able to turn out many differently-sized glass bowls filled with water and live fish, as well as a brazier filled with burning fire. While taking off his robe, the conjurer again brings out—at the end of a somersault—a big glass water bowl containing live fish. What is unique about traditional conjuring is that the performer is able to produce both water and fire without either wetting or burning his robe.
This is a performance derived from the "Leaping through Rings on the Ground" skill, and like many Chinese acrobatic arts, boasts a long history. It was known as "Swallow Play" more than two thousand years ago because the performers imitated the flying movements of swallows as they nimbly leapt through the narrow mat rings. Alternatively, it was also called "Dashing Through Narrows.” The performers are graceful and agile in their movements, demonstrating youthful vitality and breath-taking dexterity.
This acrobatic skill originally arose from the practice of peasants. During ancient times, a simple grain container was used to perform various acrobatic feats in celebration of a bumper harvest. This was later adapted by acrobats and became a popular skill amongst mainstream Chinese acrobatics. It demonstrates simplicity and steadiness as well as possessing a distinctive national flavor.
Wushu (Chinese Traditional Group Gymnastics)
This is a relatively new skill repertoire originating from children's play. Through leaps and somersaults in the air, the acrobats perform graceful movements that provide the audience with a healthy enjoyment of Chinese acrobatics.
During this act, the performer swings around two glass bowls to resemble meteors traveling across the sky. The performer twirls a length of soft rope with two water-filled glass bowls attached at each end. He/she tosses it in the air while performing difficult feats such as forward rolls and backward somersaults before catching it in mid-air. The performer continues to dance and turn about without spilling the water.
With dexterous hands and simple props, the conjurer performs many fancy tricks. He or she brings out a variety of things through skillful and clever manipulations before making them disappear again. The audience is left fascinated.
Vocal Imitation is one of the fine traditional acrobatic arts of China. Records of this act in ancient classical books can be traced back to as early as 2,300 years ago during the Warring States Period. Through practice and repetition over multiple generations of performers, its repertoire and its form have been greatly enriched. The audience may find itself being carried away during this breathtaking performance.
Cycling With Bowl Piling
This is a relatively new performance created after the founding of New China. Riding atop a round table on a monocycle more than 2 meters in height, the performer kicks up bowls, kettle, and spoons with perfect precision and then piles them on his/her head. The acrobat's skillful dexterity and humorous performance are greatly admired by the audience.
Turn On Suspended Strips
This is one of the folk sports of China. Both adroitness and strength are required for this skill, as well as a combination of action and tranquility. Relying on their arm and wrist strength as well as their high levels of self-control, the performers display the beauty of both forceful movements and graceful postures.
Gymnastics On Double-Fixed Poles
"Pole Climbing" is one of the main traditional acrobatic numbers in China, with vivid descriptions first appearing in drawings more than 1,000 years ago. Building on the original concept, new acrobatic movements such as jumping from one pole to the other, rapid descents, and many others, have been added over the centuries. These new acts demonstrate resourcefulness, courage, and optimism, and carry the art of pole climbing to new heights.
Revised June 13, 2011