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Chinese Acrobatics

Chinese acrobatics is a favourite form of art among the people. It has a long history with a distinct national style, evolving from the Chinese people's everyday life and working experience.

Historical records and ancient relics, relief carvings on tombs, stone carvings, brick carvings, murals in temples and grottoes, and decorative patterns on utensils show the origin of Chinese acrobatics more than two thousand years ago in the period of the Warring States. During the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.c.-220 A.D.), artists developed a wide variety of repertoire and acrobatics was thus called 'the show of a high level as a performing art by the Western Han Dynasty.

Zhang Heng, a great man of letters in the Eastern Han Dynasty, recorded in ond of his writings 'The Western Capital Fu' many exciting acrobatic acts and magic shows. They included 'Balancing on a high pole', 'Jumping through hoops'. 'Hand feats', 'Rope walking', 'Turning of a fish into a dragon', 'Swallowing knives and spitting fire' and 'Drawing a line on the ground and it becomes a river'. He recorded the shows accompanied by a small orchestra. All these illustrate the triumph of ancient Chinese acrobatics. From then on, a variety of acrobatic performances such as traditional conjuring, vocal imitation, taming animals, horsemanships have been recorded and described in books and historical relics. Acrobatic items have been accumulated to several hundred.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 , being guided by the principle of 'Letting a hundred flowers blossom and weeding through the old to bring forth the new', Chinese acrobatics has developed rapidly. A large number of new programmes have been created, collected, and transplanted. As music accompaniment, costumes, props and lighting have been improved,Chinese acrobatics has developed into a comprehensive form of stage art. Statistics show that there are more than one hundred acrobatic troupes throughout China. A large number of young performers have been trained. The repertoire numbers over two hundred items. In October 1981, China Acrobatic Arts Association was established, and launched its first issue of 'Acrobatics and Magics' as the first magazine on acrobatics in China.

Acrobatics has played an important role in cultural exchanges between China and other nations. In the past 35 years, Chinese acrobatic troupes have toured more than 100 countries and regions throughout the world. Their excellent performances were warmly welcomed and highly appreciated by the people of various countries.

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