[ATTENDED: February 24, 2012] The Peking Acrobats
The Peking Acrobats (let’s start simple) are acrobats from Peking, China.
As the show opened, there were ropes hanging from the ceiling (not secured to the ground). And then several men came out and climbed the ropes. Which would be no big deal, except that they climbed them like monkeys do–or more literally as if they were walking up the rope while holding on to the rope like a grappling hook line. From there they proceeded to leap back and forth between the ropes, winding themselves up and then rapidly spinning down until they almost hit the floor. Nothing I write will convey how amazing it was to watch.
And the best part about it was that that was, when all was said and done, perhaps the least interesting part of the show.
The acrobats typically altered between girls’ acts and boys’ acts (I can’t imagine the girls are any older than 16, while the boys maybe up to 18–if I am wrong then these are young-looking adults!). The boys’ acts were primarily ones of incredible strength and balance. The girls’ acts were primarily ones of amazing (and at times disturbing) flexibility and balance.
The boys were able to: while doing a one-handed hand stand, hop up and down a ladder made of small handholds; climb a stack of chairs (that were supported on four champagne bottles (!)) which reached as high as the balcony and then do a handstand on them; leap through a series of hoops (which were not secured, they were simply placed on a surface–which was obvious when one got knocked over) in the most unintuitive way ever–folding themselves as if they were touching their toes and jumping forward through them; do the amazing thing to the left
The girls were able to: balance an impossibly tall and precarious amount of glasses (on trays and piled high like an inverse chandelier) on what I believe was the bridge of her nose–and then climb a series of steps; bend their bodies in a way that I assume means they have no spine–so that their chins were on the ground and their feet went behind their heads and then were flat on the ground as well–in one variation, girls did this position while resting their chins on a ledge of an artificial tree, effectively making them look like branches. (The picture to the right doesn’t even begin to show what they were capable of).
The girls’ acts were slower and more beautiful. There were also some cool Chinese musical instruments brought on stage to accompany the more stately performances. I think my kids may have gotten a little bored during these acts–which is understandable because they were slow (as you would expect of people doing incredible balancing). The boys’ acts were noisier and more raucous–like the guy juggling hats by throwing them around the stage. But this mix of fast and slow-paced the show wonderfully.
Some other highlights included a comic routine involving a man who could fold himself into a preposterously small tube and then crawl through it using…what? his fingers? his behind? I have no idea. And then…do it backwards. A woman who juggled by throwing balls at the floor. I don’t know if that’s easier or harder than juggling in the air, but when she had eight going at once it was astonishing to watch.
And finally, the most visually arrested spectacle was when they came out and did the lion dance. Dressed in the style of Chinese Dragons (big heads in front of long draped bodies) two people danced, climbed steps, leaped over each other and walked back and forth and up and down a ramp on a large ball. Now obviously we knew there were people in the costumes, but they moved with such precision that it was easy to believe that this was an animal. And you watched them thinking, wow, how does a lion do that, and then remembering that it is really two people working in perfect synchronicity and that was even more amazing.
Photos were not permitted, understandably, and I’m not even sure if they would do justice to what these men and women accomplished. They do things that the human body should be incapable of. Like having one’s mouth gaping open in shock for 90 minutes.
This was perhaps the most amazing thing I have ever seen.