Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Short History of Chinese Acrobats

Chinese acrobats have an interesting history. In the Qin Dynasty, drama known as Jiaodi became popular with the people. It was made up of different acts including musical performances, wrestling, dance, martial arts, horsemanship, and juggling. A magnificent acrobatic show was held by Emperor Wu of Han in 108 BC for foreigners. The acts became more complicated as time passed. The Tang Dynasty gave Chinese acrobatics a new status and gradually, the acts became even more advanced.

However, Chinese acrobats were not liked by the Imperial Court so Chinese acrobats moved to the streets and the main audience became the general public. During the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the street performers became stage performers and Chinese Acrobats regained their place in the Imperial Court. Chinese Acrobats regained popularity, during the end of the Ming Dynasty with the Imperial Court and still remains a popular art today.

Chinese performing arts have a rich culture with acrobatics having a history of over two thousand years. Chinese acrobats can perform a plethora of acts such as tightrope walking, contortion, fire breathing, uni cycling and balancing acts while playing the Chinese yo- yo. The acts have been a subject of many documentaries and books, such as the documentary on Man Fan Tong called “Balancing Acts”.

In the past, tables, chairs, jars, plates and bowls were used in acrobats. The most famous of the acts is the Lion Dance, in which one big lion costume has two acrobats; the dance is a display of colors and joyful movement. Old acts include Balance on Chairs, Flying Trident, Hoop Diving and Jar Tricks. Traditional acts for Chinese acrobats also include gymnastics on double fixed poles, Wushu, spring board stunts, meteor juggling, hoop diving, tight wire acts, conjuring and acts with cycling.

A Guide to China Travel states that “The present status of Chinese acrobats reflects the industry, resourcefulness, and un-daunting courage of the Chinese people. In the past forty years and more, many Chinese acrobatic troupes have toured more than one hundred countries and regions of the world and promoted friendship and cultural exchanges. At present, there are over 120 acrobatic troupes above the county level, and more than 12,000 people are involved in performing.” There are major circuses such as the Shanghai Circus World, which covers an area of 22,500 square meters with 1,638 seats for acrobatics’ audience. Other theatres include Shanghai Theatre, Huxi Grand Theatre, Magnolia Theatre and Cloud Theatre.

Chinese acrobats go through an intensive training. Some start their journey at the tender age of nine years old. They practice three to four hours every day with training to become stronger as well as more skilled in their act. They have to maintain a very healthy diet and usually bring a chef with them on the road for traditional Chinese food.

This article was written by Joanie Wegmann, on behalf of ISAAttractions, offering you amazing ice and snow sculptures. For more information on acrobatics, you may also visit Wikipedia.

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