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Acrobatics, Chinese name is zaji, za means variety, ji means art and skill. Acrobatics is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility and motor coordination. Modern acrobatics mainly depends on performer’s soft body to complete a series of highly difficult movement. It can be found in many of the performing arts and many sports. Acrobatics is most often associated with activities that make extensive use of gymnastic skills, such as circus, and gymnastics, but many other athletic activities, such as Wushu, ballet and diving may also employ elements of acrobatics. Items in Chinese acrobatics include lion dance, oral stunts, pagoda of bowls, juggling, wire walking etc.


Chinese Zaji can be dated back to Neolithic times. Primitive man generated it from their labor skill, Kongfu skill and some special skills, and showed it as amusement at break time or celebration at winning time, which was regarded as the earliest acrobatics. As one of the traditional art forms, acrobatics has long been popular among the Chinese people for more than 2,000 years. As early as the Warring States (476B.C.-221B.C.), there appeared rudiments of acrobatics. By the time of Han Dynasty, the acrobatics art further developed both in content and form and there appeared superb performances with music accompaniment on the stage, such as ‘pole climbing', ‘role walking', ‘fish turned into dragon', and ‘five tables', etc. In the Tang Dynasty, the most thriving period in ancient China, the number of acrobats greatly increased and their performing skills gained much improved.



In Dunhuang Mural Paintings, there are images of acrobatic and circus performances. Elements of ancient acrobatics originated from people's daily life and work. Tools of labour like tridents and wicker and utilities of life such as tables, chairs and bowl were widely used in performances. At festivals, people often performed ‘flying trident', 'balance on chair', ‘jar tricks', ‘hoop diving', ‘lion dance' at the market places or in the street of town. In the long course of development, the Chinese acrobatics art has formed its own style. For example, it pays much attention to the training of actors' waist, leg and head feats.

There are much stability involved in dangerous movements and quietness in actions. The modern acrobatics aim at creating graceful stage images, harmonious musical accompaniment, and good supporting effects, props and lighting. In the past 50 years, many Chinese acrobatic troupes have visited more than one hundred countries and regions around the world and won dozens of prizes in the International acrobatic festivals and championships.


Home to Acrobatics: Wuqiao

Wuqiao, a county on the bank of the Grand Canal in Hebei Province , is well known as home to acrobatics in China .It is said that all residents in Wuqiao, from toddlers learning to walk to a 99 –year-old men, can play some acrobatics. Young people practice the art during their breaks from works. Many families have their unique skills passed down through generations. In the county, one might see a farmer in the field balancing a handcart on his chin, a child walking along the road balancing an inverted bottle filled with oil or vinegar at his little finger point, or a pupil on the way to school balancing an umbrella on his head in a rainy day. There are many acrobats from Wuqiao throughout China even the world. As a saying goes in Chinese acrobatics field, if you don't have an acrobat from Wuqiao, you can't have an acrobatics troupe.

Famous Acrobatic Troupe

As a metropolis, Shanghai is another ideal place to enjoy acrobatics performances. Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe is the top performance troupe in China. It is famous for its excellent skills; dare-devil performance and the harmonious combination of various kinds perform arts. So do not miss the chance to watch the show while you are in Shanghai.


Where to See the Acrobatic Show

1. Shanghai Circus World
Address: New Gonghe Road No.2266, Baoshan District, Shanghai
2. Yunfeng Theater
Address: No.2266 at Beijingxi road, Jingan District, Shanghai
3. Beijing Tiandi Theater
Address: No.10 at DongZhimen south road, Dongcheng District, Beijing