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Chinese Acrobatics

Introduction to China's Acrobatics

Chinese Acrobatics (Zaji) is one of the oldest performing arts. The history of acrobatics can be traced back of between 475-221BC in China. In the long course of development, the Chinese acrobatic art has formed its own style. It is believed that ancient Chinese acrobatics stemmed from the people's life and had a close link with their life and productive labor and grew out of the labor and self-defense skills that the people practiced and demonstrated during their leisure time. Instruments of labor like tridents, wicker rings and articles of daily use such as tables, chairs, jars, plates and bowls were used in their performances. By 300 BC, such skills as walking on 3-meter high stilts and juggling 7 daggers at a time had been developed in China.

Shanghai Acrobatics ShowChinese acrobatics can be called a national art. It is one of the art forms most popular among the Chinese people. In the past twenty some years, some acrobats in China have taken this folk art to a new height. The children, aged 6 to 15, have started their career here and will entertain the whole nation and the world over when they are mature in skills. 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.

Characteristics of Chinese Acrobatics

Chinese acrobatics ranks among the best in the world thanks to its long history, rich repertory and distinctive artistic characteristics. The artistic characteristics can be summarized as follows:

First, 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.

Second, Chinese acrobatics is characterized by feats of strength and daring performed cleverly, precisely and accurately, and the ability of retaining balance in motion.

Third, the traditional form of conjuring known as "ancient splendor" which flourished during the Han and Tang (618-907) dynasties seems to create something from nothing, which is very different from Western magic.

Fourth, Chinese acrobats can juggle, both light and heavy objects with dexterity, particularly with their feet. Juggling objects with the feet is mostly done by females lying on a special square platform. The artists manipulate a variety of objects ranging from wine buckets, porcelain jars, tables, ladders, poles, planks, drums and gongs to silk umbrellas and people weighing more than 100 pounds.

Shanghai Acrobatics ShowFifth, Chinese acrobatics features the combination of great physical strength and quick and nimble somersaults. It requires unusual physical strength on the part of the performer supporting a pyramid, as the Tang Dynasty acrobat who, records indicate, balanced a long pole on his head while 18 people performed aerial stunts.

Sixth, Chinese acrobatics, an art form closely related to people's production and daily-life activities, uses labor tools and objects as props, including bowls, plates, jars, cups, ropes, whips, poles, ladders, tables, chairs, umbrellas and hats. Some items are based on production activities, folk games and sports such as lassoing horses or cattle, driving carts and skipping rope. Finally, Chinese acrobatics has maintained a strict master-apprentice system and has been closely related to other forms of the performing arts.

Classic Chinese Acrobatics Program for performance

Acrobatics is a performing art which combines physical strength and skill. The Encyclopedias Britannica describes acrobatics as "the specialized and ancient art of jumping, tumbling and balancing, often using apparatus such as poles, unicycles, balls, barrels, tightropes, trampolines and flying trapezes"

They are group contortion, jar juggling, plate spinning, bench balance, pagoda of bowls, chair stack, The Tower of Chairs... and more.

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