Wuqiao county flies high on acrobatics

Updated: 2012-07-02 07:49

By Liu Xiang in Wuqiao, Hebei province (China Daily)

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 Wuqiao county flies high on acrobatics

Acrobatic virtuosity at the China Wuqiao International Circus Festival, considered one of the top three of its kind in the world. Liu Xiang / China Daily

Wuqiao county in North China's Hebei province is considered the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics due to a history of aerial virtuosity that stretches back more than 2,000 years.

Even today its residents, no matter young or old, can often stun tourists with their astonishing acrobatic skills.

Murals in an ancient tomb in the county estimated to be more than 1,400 years old depict scenes of handstands and horsemanship.

In villages, fields or courtyards in the small county of 280,000 people, acrobatic stunts are seemingly everywhere. Daily household or farming tools at hand are often used in performances.

There are more than 2,000 professional acrobats working in 37 State-owned and private troupes in Wuqiao.

In some acrobat families, toddlers only 2 years old have already started receiving acrobatic training.

In recognition of the influence and wide appeal for acrobatics in Wuqiao, the Ministry of Culture officially named the county "home of acrobatics" in November 1996.

The large, high-standard, China Wuqiao International Circus Festival held every two years has earned international fame for the small county.

It is now considered one of the three most influential acrobatic competitions in the world along with the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival in Monaco and the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain - the World Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow - in France.

More than 200 top-notch acrobats from 17 countries and regions were selected from 60 renowned circuses in the world to take part in the event in Wuqiao last year.

Acrobatic troupes from Wuqiao now make regular tours of more than 60 countries and regions in the world, especially Europe and the United States.

They have brought wealth and fame to Wuqiao. Last year, the county's acrobats generated $18 million from performances abroad, forming a core industry that drives the county's economic growth.

They also perform at the 200-hectare Wuqiao Acrobatics World, a theme park unique in the country that showcases their skills.

Now a hotspot that draws increasing numbers of tourists, the park also offers magic and comedy shows.

Contact the writer at liuxiang@chinadaily.com.cn