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Peking Acrobats promise to make PAC audiences flip

Posted: January 10, 2011 2:47 p.m.
Updated: January 12, 2011 4:22 p.m.

This month, the Peking Acrobats - a troupe of China's most gifted tumblers, contortionists, jugglers, cyclists and gymnasts - will bring their country's 2,000-year-old tradition of stunning acrobatics to the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) at College of the Canyons, as part of their limited 40-city North American tour.

The Peking Acrobats will perform on the PAC main stage on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets range in price from $30 to $55 and can be purchased through the PAC Box Office.

During their 24 previous years of existence, the Peking Acrobats have thrilled sold-out audiences, headlined tours, entertained at private events, performed in TV shows and movies including "Ocean's 11" and even set a Guinness world record for the "human chair stack."

The Peking Acrobats are already world-renowned for their daring aerial maneuvers, treacherous wire walking, cycling tricks, precision tumbling, somersaulting, gymnastics displays, and extraordinary exhibits of balance, agility and grace.

However, for their 2011 25th Silver Anniversary North American Tour the Peking Acrobats are expected to pull out all the stops, making these performances more spectacular and memorable than ever before.

Featuring a selection of new acts, some new twists on some old favorites and, as always, incredible costumes and special effects, for the first time ever the Peking Acrobats have invited the Women's Peace Orchestra of China to accompany them on stage.

Having won awards in musical competitions throughout Asia, this renowned female ensemble will blend their musical talents with the on-stage artistry of the acrobats to create a magnificent display of pageantry and performance that all audiences will enjoy.

"This extraordinary performance by the Peking Acrobats will be a memorable way for families to experience, and celebrate, this traditional Chinese art form," said Adam Philipson, PAC managing director. "We look forward to continually exposing Santa Clarita Valley audiences to more culturally unique art forms and performances."

Behind the Backflips: A Background to the Peking Acrobats
The Peking Acrobats' ability to perform the astounding is rooted in centuries of Chinese history and folk art. Records of acrobatic acts can be found as early as the Ch'in Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.).

According to Fu Qifeng, author of "Chinese Acrobatics Through the Ages," acrobatics originated from the Chinese people's daily life, drawing from their experiences in work and war. However, during China's Warring States Period the art form became more widespread, as it was believed that acrobatics could steal people's will and increase their physical strength and accuracy of their movements.

During the Han Dynasty (207 B.C. - 220 A.D.) acrobatics flourished, and the collection of juggling, tumbling and magic acts came to be known as the "Hundred Entertainments."

According to Qifeng, it was during this time that Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty presented a grand acrobatic performance designed to entertain a collection of foreign dignitaries - thus marking the first time in Chinese history that acrobatic art was presented for diplomatic purposes. After the performance, the foreign guests were so impressed by what they saw that they agreed to enter into military and trade alliances with the Emperor.

Today, because of the unusual and difficult feats involved with acrobatics, high honor is conferred upon those skilled enough to become acrobats. In China there are approximately 100,000 students studying at schools dedicated to the art of acrobatics.

However, only the very best of these performers will ever be selected as members of an elite world-touring troupe like the Peking Acrobats.


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