Performers spun umbrellas and tables like tops using just their feet. Others leapt and flipped through rings simultaneously, in different directions. One performer stood on tiptoe on another’s head. The cast dazzled the audience with color, agility and a hint of suspense as they defied gravity with grace.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats, a world-class troupe of Chinese acrobats, performed Monday at Pearce Auditorium as part of the 2008 Arts Council Pearce Series.
"I think this is a good chance to introduce the (Chinese) culture ... to a fast, new, high-speed generation," choreographer Angela Chang said.
The show, which features some 15 highly trained acrobatic performers, incorporates a mix of Western and Chinese culture.
Performing with the Golden Dragon Acrobats is a lifelong achievement for the young acrobats, who range in age from 16 to 26 years old.
Danny Chang, Angela Chang’s husband and the director of the Golden Dragon Acrobats, used his own experience as an acrobat to create the program.
The acrobats began fostering their talent as young as 7, training at acrobat school in Hebei, China.
There, they practiced for about seven hours a day until they reached performance age at 15, when individual performers were chosen for each act.
The performers’ selection was just the beginning of their acrobatic training.
From there, they focused for months, sometimes years, on perfecting the skills involved in their act as well as the group acts. The Golden Dragon Acrobats have performed in 68 countries across the world.
"Our company is like a big family," Chang said.
Eric Liang, the road manager, said there is good and bad to the average 6,000 miles the troupe logs together every month. For many of the acrobats, it is their first time in the United States.
"The hardest thing is some of them get homesick," Liang said.
But with new places come fun new experiences, too.
"We had tacos the other night," Liang said. "They’d never seen them before."
Chang said although tightening security has made it increasingly more of a hassle to get into the United States, it’s worth it if the acrobats can do what they love.
"No matter what, we need to believe that when we bring (that) love to the audience, we have done our job."
Suspended only by each other’s feet and arms, a delicate tier of performers rapidly grabbed onto each other, atop a solo bicyclist moving around the stage. The crowd broke out in applause as the performers completed the act.
It appeared that the Golden Dragons had done their job.