The Chinese acrobatics has a long history and rich national flavor. It is one of the art forms most popular among the Chinese people. In a broad sense, acrobatics is the collective name of various kinds of feats. In the primitive society, acrobatics was closely related with music and dance, and became dominant of cultures at that time.
In the Variety Show of the Han Dynasty and performances in the imperial court of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), acrobatics was very prosperous just like music and dance. After the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, acrobatics together with classical dances were looked down upon. However, some superb feats of the previous dynasties were still handed down to the later generations and got much improvement. Chinese acrobatic art spread to overseas and enjoyed a good reputation at the late years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the early years of the Republic of China (1912-1949).
In the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC), Jiaodi Drama (a drama that incorporates an ancient wrestling skill), originally popular among ordinary people, was introduced to the imperial court. Jiaodi Drama developed into a variety show of various music-dance acrobatics, including juggling sword, handstands, walking on the robe, feats on horseback, climbing poles, fighting with animals, and so on in the Han Dynasty.
Historical records show that Han Emperor Wudi (r.140-86BC) held a grand banquet and largess awarding ceremony in the spring of 108BC. Large-scale acrobatics performances were staged in the event, including various variety show feats and performances of foreign acrobats. Exotic feats made the acrobatics in the Han Dynasty more developed and colorful.
In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), acrobatics was prevalent in the imperial court and among ordinary people as well. Royal families not only appreciated acrobatics during banquets but also had acrobatics performances in processions of high officials. An Outing of Lady of the Song, a mural in the Dunhuang Mogao Grottos, was one of the examples.
The acrobatics in the Tang Dynasty was not as developed as that in the Han Dynasty, and some programs in the Jiaoti Variety Show were eliminated, but those programs left enjoyed surprising development and took on new characteristics.
In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), acrobatics moved from the imperial court to ordinary people, and the performing form and program contents witnessed profound changes. The emergence of Cheng’s and Zhu’s idealist philosophy and the prevalence of feudal ethics made the acrobatic art that came from ordinary people and was close to real life receive repulsion. Except some variety show items used in military trainings and performances in ceremonies in imperial court, most acrobatics programs were used by acrobats in vagabondism as a way of living.
This change made some large-scale programs disappear, while various small-scale programs and programs performed by families or individuals came into being. Juggling skills saw unprecedented development, and some fine works that show feats of waist, leg or head emerged.
In the Ming (1638-1644) and Qing dynasties, acrobatics was still a way of living for some people. Programs performed by individuals, father and son, master and apprentice, saw much development, and there formed many small-scale serial acrobatic performances, retaining many traditional feats.
Chinese acrobatics form their unique artistic characteristics: much attention to the training of waist, leg and head feats; stability in dangerous movements, quietness in actions; producing something strange out of something plain; attention to both heavy and light, hard and soft skills. For instance, Juggling Objects with the Feet involves objects of varying weight, including heavy objects like wine jar, wood block, ladder, gong and drum, and even quick, and light objects like parasols made of thin silk; combination of much strength and spry and light somersault skills; and good adaptability.
All these artistic characteristics help form the unique charm of Chinese acrobatics. In recent years, Chinese acrobats won prizes in many international competitions, and China was internationally recognized as the No.1 Country of Acrobatics.
The history of acrobatics in China can be traced back to Neolithic times. It is believed that acrobatics grew out of the labor and self-defense skills that the people practiced and demonstrated during their leisure time.
By 300BC, such skills as walking on 3-meter high stilts and juggling 7 daggers at a time had been developed in China.
As the world economy developed, acrobatics was also developed into a kind of performance art. Acrobatics became known worldwide through performances presented along the Silk Road.
During the 13th century, the reputation of acrobatics as an impressive art form began to suffer. The public didn’t respect acrobatics as they had before, and many acrobats found it very difficult to find places to perform.
After the sounding of the drum, the acrobatic show would begin. Several benches and a few props was all an acrobat owned. These early acrobatics didn’t care so much about giving a beautiful performance, so long as the conveyed a feeling of danger and peril.
The life of those fallen acrobats was tough. A lot of acrobatic performers were forced to do farming in countryside. Because of their love for acrobatics, acrobatic art was able to survive for generations.
Located in Northeastern Plain, Wuqiao County relies on agriculture. Wandering through small villages here, you can see a lot of people practicing acrobatics. Although, they’re not as professional as I expected.
Currently, Mr. Jiang is teaching acrobatics to his children. There are over 400 families who are capable performing acrobatics. They sometimes perform in the other cities together.
The ‘Acrobatic Macrocosm’ was built for local acrobatic performances by the Wuqiao Municipal government. There are many other forms of folk art performed here.
Because renting a stage in a big theatre in urban areas is often very expensive, local acrobatic troupes build temporary stages for their performances. These temporary stages not only can save money, but also can be moved and reused.
In the early 1980s, the American Education Commission introduced acrobatics into the students’ curriculum. China established two art schools especially for acrobatics-Wuqiao Acrobatic School and the Beijing Acrobatic School.
To become a competent acrobat, students must begin practicing the basic skills from the time they are only 6 or 7 years old. Because the techniques employed in acrobatics are extremely difficult and risky, students must endure a good deal of pains for their gain.
Handsprings are one of the basic skills in acrobatics. Students must practice everyday. Apart from somersaults and handsprings, waist and leg flexibility and headstands are the other basic skills students must master. The training is long, hard, and intense.
Acrobatic students can better illustrate the beauty of human body when they are performing in physique class.
In Europe and North America, Chinese acrobatic performances attract large audiences.
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.
Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe was awarded many gold medals during the ‘Tomorrow and Future’ International Acrobatic Festival in France, which draws the most outstanding acrobats from around the world.
A high level acrobatic program needs excellent technique coaches and much preparation time before it is ready to be performed in public.
Zhou Pinqi, technical coach of Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe, started to practice acrobatics when he was a child and became a coach. He, Zhang Gongli and other four students participated in the Shengyang Acrobatic Troupe in 1997. The programs he guided have twice won the highest prize at French Acrobatic Festival. He has his own unique methods of coaching his students.
Because it has an abundance of excellent acrobatic coaches, Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe has trained a group of outstanding acrobats.
The Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe produced the first themed acrobatic gala entitled ‘Moon Light Acrobatics’ in China.
The performance matches the theme ‘Moonlight Acrobatics’ through innovations in stage lighting.
Acrobatic art has its own peculiarity. The performance itself is very depictive; therefore the requirement for lighting is much stricter than opera and drama.
The theme music perfectly coincided with the performance, which made the atmosphere of the event even livelier. However, before the rehearsal, the performer gave the director a lot of trouble.
Ju Yi, director of ‘Moonlight Acrobatics’, said, ‘Most acrobats do not have dancing experience. They don’t understand music. I mean the performance just didn’t fully express the emotion of the music.’
Chinese acrobatic art is still what it was centuries ago in that it does not over emphasize the role of music. Performers pay more attention to action. Therefore it takes time for performers to adapt to the music.
‘Moonlight Acrobatics’ took eight months to prepare, from planning and rehearsing to the performing the first show. That was much longer than other stage performances.
A successful acrobatic show also requires appropriate clothing. Costumes further enhance the beauty of the performance and increase the visual effects.
When you watch a Chinese acrobatics show, you are strongly impacted both mentally and physically. It is truly and unforgettable experience.
Ticket List Prices
Show Time: 15:30/17:30/19:00
Pick-up Time: 1 hour before the show
Tour Type: One Way Transport And Entrance Ticket
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Chinese Acrobatics Evening Show, Night Show