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Tuesday, September 19

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Performance Tue Feb 10 2015

Peking Acrobats Thrill Audience at Harris Theater

By Kim Campbell

Peking Acrobats
Photo by Nadea Ross.

The Peking Acrobats displayed their 2000-year old tradition of acrobatics, steeped in ritual, highlighting 12 powerful and precise acts for two nights last weekend at the Harris Theater. The show, showcasing Chinese instruments and laser lightshow technology, was a powerful performance, rich in color, textures, surprises and lively family fun.

The show began with a traditional piece meant to dispel bad luck and display courage, strength and happiness called the Lion Dance. The two colorful lions behaved like dogs as they fetched balls, wagged their tails and scratched their heads, tongues lolling comically. They were accompanied by huge dagu drums manned by drummers keeping a fierce beat that built in intensity as the lions became more adventurous, eventually having a baby lion, and most notably performing acrobatic stunts on the rolla bolla.

As the show progressed, a lute, the Erhu (Chinese violin), the flute, and an electric harp made appearances with musicians in traditional garb in various acts, adding to the drama and beauty of the setting. There were lush backdrops, silk and satin costumes and vibrantly colored props to complete the feeling of having entered a scene in a modern day Chinese dynasty. The highest expression of this was perhaps the presence of the Jigu! Thunder drummers of China who appeared in several routines and have a stunning light show-enhanced performance of their own titled "The Sound of Rolling Walnuts."

Most powerful though were the 20 or so circus performers who are often trained since childhood, according to the program. They featured a female handstand artist, a group of five Chinese hoop performers in Diving Daring Duo who were able to leap five hoops high, a plate-spinning trio of chefs who managed to get 24 plates rotating, a rousing diablo routine with four women exotically attired in feathered headdresses and sequined armor, a tilted chair routine that had the crowd holding its collective breath, and a finale that went over the top, with human pyramids and an eight-person bicycle pagoda stunt that was visually stunning.

Although the Chinese circus tradition requires no ringmaster or MC, there was an occasional clown present in the beginning of an act to break up the seriousness of the feats displayed. The performances follow one another rapidly with no pretense of a theme, building momentum, shifting between masterful expressions of poise and beauty and high energy shows of strength and skill that culminated in the finale, where every performer was onstage waving a flag, leaping, cycling, flipping or playing an instrument to end the show with a burst of color and excitement.

The Peking Acrobats are in the midst of their 29th North American tour. They will perform in more than 40 cities in four months. You can find more information here.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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