Friday, February 27, 2009 at 8:00 PM
Music Center at Strathmore
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; they are experts at treacherous feats of daring, 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 skillfully playing traditional Chinese instruments and high-tech special effects that coalesce with the music, featuring the Acrobats awe-inspiring feats, an exuberant entertainment event appears before your eyes, featuring all the excitement and festive pageantry of a Chinese Carnival infused with explosive energy!
Many of the magnificent acts we see today, despite their sophistication, were performed in ancient times. The history of Chinese acrobatics is rich in tradition and dates back over 2000 years. Throughout the history of China the acrobatic arts flourished, but in varying degrees. Originally, court entertainments were formal and monotonous, quite the opposite of the lively, folk arts of the people. And, it did all begin with folk arts: tumbling, juggling ordinary household objects and balancing. Common games of the people, such as “Rang Hitting,” or throwing a small wooden strip the size and shape of a shoe 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 was also revered for dispelling bad luck.
Eventually, however, the excitement of the acrobat’s amazing feats caught and held the attention of the ruling classes. 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 BC - 220 AD). Records of acrobatic acts can be found as early as the Ch'in Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.) 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 this Chinese history and folk art.
Tradition demands that each generation of acrobats add its own improvements and embellishments. Generations of families have carried on this highly acclaimed and popular tradition. Children begin training at a young age and adhere to a rigorous training schedule which 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; in China, 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, and ABC’s WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS, NBC’s RING IN THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY SPECIAL. They have also appeared on NICKELODEON’S hit show Unfabulous and ELLEN’S REALLY BIG SHOW, hosted by comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres. 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 up in the air without safety lines! Internationally, they have appeared on the ARTISTGALLA, a benefit show that was filmed live at the Drammens Theatre in Oslo, Norway. THE PEKING ACROBATS are also making the Hollywood scene on the silver screen as former company members were featured in director Stephen Soderbergh’s hit film Ocean’s 11, playing with Hollywood’s elite such as Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Qin Shaobo, an alumnus of THE PEKING ACROBATS, appeared in that film’s two blockbuster sequels, Ocean’s 12, and Ocean’s 13. THE PEKING ACROBATS were also the featured performers at the glamorous Hollywood Premiere Party of Ocean’s 13 and they really impressed the star-studded audience with their incredible acrobatic feats!
THE PEKING ACROBATS are also pleased to announce the tremendous success of their first consumer DVD, initially released on their 2006 North American Tour and filmed on their 2005 North American Tour as a television special for HDNet. This crystal-clear, thrilling DVD is available for sale to the public at their performances and on the internet at www.iaipresentations.com. The show, shot in High Definition format, has aired many times on HDNet television. THE PEKING ACROBATS® are excited and honored to have been selected by HDNet to participate in such technological innovation, thereby putting this attraction on the cutting edge of modern technology.
THE PEKING ACROBATS continue to perform for Symphony Concert audiences across America. Fans will recall that this milestone in their career was achieved when they made their debut at the Hollywood Bowl. They performed as part of the Hollywood Bowl’s Fireworks Season Finale, where the company blended their unique brand of acrobatics with the majestic sound of the 100-piece Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The acrobats infused Bowl audiences with their powerful maneuvers in a multi-cultural, multi-media spectacular. Between the ‘fireworks’ on stage and the fireworks in the air, audiences experienced theatrical alchemy at its finest! Concerts such as these have led to many other performances with Symphony Orchestras across the US such as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, to name a few.
THE PEKING ACROBATS have returned to the Hollywood Bowl in three separate outing, most recently performing with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in September of 2008 with Maestro Tom Wilkins conducting. They were thrilled at the opportunity to play this prestigious venue once again. The Hollywood Bowl audiences so warmly received them, it was like a homecoming celebration for the performers. Clearly, THE PEKING ACROBATS are now bringing their unique artistry to a completely new audience with the Symphony Concerts and will continue to do so in the future.
THE PEKING ACROBATS have also expanded their reach into the European market. For the past three years, they have toured throughout the Continent and visited such countries as Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Several of these countries they have traveled to two and three times over, visiting many exciting cities such as Milan, Bologna, and Naples in Italy, Brugge in Belgium, as well as Amsterdam and the Haag in the Netherlands.
Their affinity for and popularity with European audiences does not end there, however, as in December of 2008, THE PEKING ACROBATS once again returned to Europe, this time for their Fourth European Tour. Here, again, is another triumph for THE PEKING ACROBATS as they share their incredible talents, abilities, and culture with ever-widening audiences, building their reputation as the finest Chinese acrobatic troupe in the world! On all of these European tours, the performers have endeared themselves to the European audiences and so it is no surprise that they are asked to return there by popular demand, again and again. The warmth and appreciation of the European people makes THE PEKING ACROBATS feel right at home and the future holds many more such successful tours for THE PEKING ACROBATS’ much to the delight of their growing numbers of European fans!
A performance by THE PEKING ACROBATS, therefore, brings with it the opportunity to view the epitome of a rich and ancient folk art tradition, highlighted by today’s technology melding the ancient and traditional with the modern wonders of the 21st Century. Therefore, it is with much pride and pleasure that we embark on the Twenty Second North American Tour of THE PEKING ACROBATS®. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as our performers reveal to you their mastery of a fascinating and ancient art form, thousands of years in the making!
As the Seattle Times reports: "Nearly everything THE PEKING ACROBATS did last night was amazing - and stunning, and breathtaking and WOW!" and Clive Davis of the New York Post sums it up thusly: "THE PEKING ACROBATS [are] pushing the envelope of human possibility…Pure artistry!"