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A deadly balancing act

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-22 08:13
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Award-winning show at the 11th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards: acrobatic show Zhongfan(Flagpole Act) by the Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School and Cangzhou Acrobatics Troupe.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Acrobats amaze audiences with their midair stunts, Chen Nan reports.

It was a moment that justified the audience holding their breath before issuing a collective gasp of astonishment as 21 acrobats flew through the air, 26 meters above the ground across a 16-meter span.

Some "flew" as soloists, performing three head-over-heel tumbles, while others "flew" as part of a duet, tumbling four-and-a-half times. They also performed aerial tricks and switched roles as "flyers" and "catchers". With feats of balance, strength, flexibility and daring, they offered the stunned audience death-defying acrobatic acts. This was a show with a built-in wow factor.

The show, Aerial Swing Trapeze Act, presented by the Henan Acrobatics Group and Puyang Acrobatic Art School, was named at the 11th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards as one of the 10 best acrobatic shows.

Launched in 1997, the competition is held every three years and is the highest award for acrobatics in China. The competition selected and awarded the top 10 shows.

This year's competition was held in Puyang, Henan province, from Nov 9 to 11. Thirty acrobatic shows selected from 70 performances from around the country competed for the final top 10 awards.

"We prepared for more than a year for the competition," says show choreographer Zhu Lin, adding that the 21 acrobats, from 14 to 35 years old, were selected from about 200 candidates. "The new show featured some of the most difficult actions we've ever choreographed. We are very proud of our acrobats, who challenged themselves and did a great job."

Zhu adds more intriguing details. "Flying and rotating in the air are among the most challenging acrobatic techniques. We have made some changes based on the traditional 'flying men' shows. For example, the poles reached out from the roof instead of standing on the floor. The safety net was controlled by computer, which only took one minute to open and close the net," says Zhu. The new show, she says, was inspired by eagles flying down the mountain cliff, "beautiful and full of courage".

Back in 2017, an acrobatic show choreographed by Zhu, combining trampoline and martial arts, also won the award during the 10th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards. She says that the award-winning show toured nationwide and she hopes that the new show will also attract a large audience.

Zhu, 26, trained to become a dancer as a child. After graduating from the Puyang Acrobatic Art School, she joined the Henan Acrobatics Group as a dancer. From 2013 to 2015, she came to Beijing to receive training as a choreographer at the Beijing Dance Academy. She has been choreographing shows for Henan Acrobatics Group since 2014.

"Acrobatics has a long history in China. The art form is enjoyed by people of all ages and has been developed over the decades. Compared to older-generation acrobats, who took the job to make ends meet, today our acrobats are young and passionate about the art form," she says.

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