The Peking Acrobats somersault through the Grand Theatre

Chinese acrobat troupe offers impressive display of strength

Credit: 
Supplied by Robert Giarda

On Feb. 27, The Peking Acrobats gave a gravity-defying performance at The Grand Theatre. 

While they didn’t perform their famous human chair stack, which earned them a Guinness World Record in 1999, they didn’t fail to impress. 

Starting off the show on Tuesday night, the acrobats performed tricks and flips on a giant trampoline, springing onto tall surrounding poles where they climbed higher and off of which they somersaulted. 

After an impressive hula-hoop display, the acrobats went on to perform a series of balancing acts. 

From stacks of tiny glass cups, to umbrellas, to spinning plates, The Peking Acrobats showed they could balance, spin, juggle, toss and catch just about anything.

Beyond balancing objects, the troupe’s stunts demonstrated extreme trust, teamwork and partnership as they balanced each other. They often required one acrobat to fully support another’s body weight as they rode around in circles on a bicycle with every member of the troupe stacked on top of one another. 

At one point in the show, one female performer balanced on another’s head using only the support of one of her hands, all while spinning four plates on a stick with the other. 

Each of these moves were measured, carefully-executed physical challenges. 

The troupe members generated a very real level of fear and danger whether it was by using spears to support a man’s body weight, or balancing on top of seven stacked chairs on one hand. 

The Peking Acrobats’ offer stunning stunts. (Photo Supplied by Robert Giarda)

However, the tension was often balanced with light-hearted and playful interactions with the audience. One young girl was invited onto the stage to hold a balloon that was to be popped with a small needle through a layer of thick glass. 

The Peking Acrobats poked fun as they dressed her in safety goggles and a hard helmet to keep her safe, despite the clear absence of danger involved in the act. The audience laughed and enjoyed these small moments of comic relief from the dangerous nature of the other acts performed. 

The costumes, sets and props of the night were captivating in their variety of colour, material and texture. The female performers wore full bright bodysuits for many of their acts, including their dance with the diabolo — a juggling act in which the main performer had to balance an hourglass shaped object on a string using two sticks. The women performed a dance while balancing this object and tossing it overhead only to catch it again after somersaults and front and back hand-springs. 

The group costumes presenting ornamented Chinese dragons made up the most elaborate of the show’s props on Tuesday night. Six men, in three groups of two, shared costumes of large traditional dragon heads equipped with moving mouths and batting eyelids.

During this act, roughly 12 pillars of different heights were lined up on stage. One dragon, made up of two male performers, would jump up onto the pillars and run across them, despite the differences in height and extreme physical control the runs demanded. The demonstration was impressive and no doubt, quite dangerous, but they pulled it off and made the feat appear effortless. 

The gravity-defying stunts, beautiful costuming and shocking performances captivated audience members in an impressive show of human strength.

 

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