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Acrobatics enjoyed worldwide via intl students

By Zhang Yu in Wuqiao, Cangzhou | | Updated: 2018-08-21 15:01
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More than 30 international students from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Laos graduated this month from Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School after they finished a year’s training in Chinese acrobatics, or Zaji.

Located in Wuqiao county in North China’s Hebei province - the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics - the school attracts dozens of international students each year who want to learn acrobatic techniques.

It has trained nearly 400 foreign students from 23 developing countries since 2002, when a cultural exchange program was launched by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce.

Bilal Fofanah is one of them.

He was excited and also depressed when he was about to leave China in early August.

The 15-year-old from Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, came to Wuqiao in August last year.

“It is the Chinese kung fu films I watched that attracted me here,” Bilal said while bragging about several martial arts stars, like Jackie Chan.

Before he came, Bilal was a hip-hop dancer at a middle school.

He started to learn acrobatics as a hobby at 13 years old, when one of his friends got to know an acrobat and persuaded Bilal to learn the skills together.

In his mind, acrobats are just as cool as martial arts stars.

After a year’s training and practice, Bilal now can perform amazing acrobatic feats, such as juggling hats and making acrobatic moves in a rotating Cyr wheel.

“I like the feel of performing on a stage when audiences cheer and applaud my movements,” Bilal said.

He said he will show what he has learned to people back home and even in other countries in the future.

“I miss home but I don’t want to leave China,” said Bilal, adding that his dream is to stay in China and make a lot of money as an acrobat.

“The traditional art form is one of the most important cultural bridges connecting people from countries across the world,” said Qi Zhiyi, vice-president of the school, who has been engaged in acrobatics training for 34 years.

“Acrobatics is universal art. People from any place around the globe - young or old - can enjoy it, without the barriers of language, politics or geography,” Qi said.

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