Since their debut in 1986, THE PEKING ACROBATS have redefined audience perceptions of Chinese acrobatics. They perform daring maneuvers atop a precarious pagoda of chairs, and are experts at treacherous wire-walking, trick-cycling, precision tumbling, somersaulting, and gymnastics. They defy gravity with amazing displays of contortion, flexibility, and control. They push the envelope of human possibility with astonishing juggling dexterity and incredible balancing feats, showcasing tremendous skill and ability. They are masters of agility and grace. Accompanied by live musicians who skillfully play traditional Chinese instruments and high-tech special effects that coalesce with the music and awe-inspiring feats, The Peking Acrobats create an exuberant entertainment event featuring all the excitement and festive pageantry of a Chinese Carnival!
Many of the magnificent acts that are seen today, despite their sophistication, were performed in ancient times. The history of Chinese acrobatics is rich in tradition and dates back over 2000 years. Acrobatic arts have flourished throughout the history of China, but in varying degrees. It all begin with folk arts: tumbling, juggling ordinary household objects, and balancing. Common games, such as "rang hitting" - throwing a small wooden strip the size and shape of a shoe's sole at a target - developed accuracy. Modern-day whip feats are traced back to this game. Myth and religion also influenced the acrobatic performing arts. The Lion Dance is Buddhist in origin. The lion was seen as the reincarnation of a woman, who was teased into revealing her true identity. This dance was a symbol of spiritual renewal and also revered for dispelling bad luck.
Originally, court entertainments were formal and monotonous, quite the opposite of the lively folk arts of the people. Eventually, the excitement of the acrobat's amazing feats caught and held the attention of the ruling class. Acrobatic performers were routinely invited to the court to entertain and impress visiting dignitaries. The varied acts of tumbling, singing, dancing and juggling became known as "The Hundred Entertainments" during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 ACE). Records of acrobatic acts can be found as early as the Ch'in Dynasty (221 BCE - 207 BCE), and Chinese acrobats through the ages have continued to perfect what has become an evolving folk art form. The Peking Acrobats' ability to perform the astounding is rooted in centuries of Chinese history.
Tradition demands that each generation of acrobats add its own improvements and embellishments to the art. Generations of families carry on this highly acclaimed and popular tradition. Children begin training at a young age, and adhere to a rigorous training schedule that they follow for the rest of their lives. Today, the acrobat in China is considered an artist. Because of the unusual and difficult nature of the feats involved, high honor is conferred upon those skilled enough to become acrobats; an acrobat can be considered the Chinese equivalent of an American opera star. It is telling that the Chinese acrobatic tradition just gets stronger due to the continued innovation of the artists and the endless enthusiasm from their adoring public.
The Peking Acrobats have been featured on numerous television shows and celebrity-studded TV specials, including The Wayne Brady Show, That's Incredible!, ABC's Wide World Of Sports, NBC's Ring In The New Year holiday special, and on Nickelodeon's new hit show, Unfabulous. They set the world record for the Human Chair Stack on Fox's Guinness Book Primetime TV show, where they astounded audiences with their bravery and dexterity as they balanced six people precariously atop six chairs, 21 feet in the air - without safety lines!
The Peking Acrobats are also making the scene on the silver screen. Company members were featured in Stephen Soderbergh's hit films Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 12, playing along with the Hollywood elite such as Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney. Qin Shaobo, an alumnus of The Peking Acrobats, appears in Ocean's 13, featuring many of the original cast members as well as Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino. The Peking Acrobats were also the featured performers at the glamorous Hollywood premiere party of Ocean's 13, where they impressed the star-studded audience with their incredible acrobatic feats.
The Peking Acrobats are also pleased to announce the tremendous success of their DVD, recorded on their 2005 North American Tour as a television special for HDNet, now available for sale to the general public at their performances. The show, shot in High Definition format, has aired many times on HDNet television. The Peking Acrobats are excited and honored to participate in the cutting edge of modern technology.
In December of 2006, The Peking Acrobats returned to Europe for a six-week tour of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Holland. Sparked by their tremendous success during their 2005 tour of Italy, this tour took them to many exciting and fascinating locales, where they enjoyed sharing their ancient artistry with an ever-widening European audience. In February 2005 they astounded Italian audiences with their incredible talents during a five-week, twelve-city tour that took them to Milan, Pisa, Bologna, Naples, and many other fascinating and exciting cities in Italy, performing to sell-out crowds; it's no surprise that they returned there by popular demand.
The Peking Acrobats also perform for symphony audiences across America, a milestone in their career that began with their debut at the Hollywood Bowl in the fall of 2003 as part of the Hollywood Bowl's Fireworks Finale, where the company blended their unique brand of acrobatics with the majestic sound of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. These concerts have led to many other performances with symphony orchestras across the U.S., including the San Francisco Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, to name a few. The Peking Acrobats are now bringing their unique artistry to a whole new audience and are thrilled to return to the Hollywood Bowl for this performance.