March 18 2013 12:00 AM

National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China roll into town


Wednesday, Oct. 26
The Chinese government established the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic
of China in 1950 to preserve an art form that’s existed for about 3,000 years.
This year marks the first time the acrobats have toured the United States and
Canada; the tour stops at the Wharton Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.

In their homeland,
the National Acrobats maintain a training facility with over 150 acrobatic
resident performers and over 500 students of all ages. It’s become one of the
largest acrobatic and circus arts centers in the world.

90-minute performance (
directed by Zhang
Hong and Sun Lili)
features contortionists, tumblers and
ballet performers who do their dancing on the shoulders, elbows, palms and arms
of a company member. The routines are performed to Chinese and Western pop,
opera and folk music.

just the beginning. Ken Neuhauser of the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., describes
a few other highlights: “‘Pagoda of Bowls’ — with two acrobats throwing another
performer to the top of a human pagoda of three people and bowls balanced on
various performers’ feet — won the Golden Clown Award in Monaco, an honor
considered the “Acrobatic Oscar” of the circus world. ‘Diabolo’ is another
prize winner, having taken the 2005 President’s Award at the International
Circus Festival of Tomorrow in Paris. The diabolo is a juggling gizmo that
evolved from the Chinese yo-yo. It’s an oversized spool, whirled and tossed
from a string connected to two sticks. During the routine, one person
manipulates three diabolos simultaneously behind her back.”

National Acrobats of the People’s Republic
of China
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27
Wharton Center