The skilled acrobats and contortionists of the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China earned roaring rounds of applause from the audience after their intricate acts, each more complicated than the previous one.
On Saturday night, the show, titled “Cirque Peking,” transported its viewers from the Staller Center Main Stage to a world where incredible feats were not just dreamlike, but also a reality.
The stage was drenched in lights; bright hues of reds, oranges, blues and greens enhanced the show by adding another eye-catching element for the audience to admire. The complicated stunts and glowing lights made the talented performers turn into doll-like figures that carried out the tricks with seemingly effortless ease and perfection.
The show opened with an act titled “Drum Girls.” Music that was loud enough to be felt filled the concert hall as the audience watched in anticipation for the first act to begin.
The stage was suddenly filled with flexible girls dressed in radiant red costumes, all carrying large drums with a sun-like pattern on the center. The girls spun the drums on their feet so fast that the pattern on the drums became dizzying and hypnotic to the audience.
During the middle of the first half, the lights dimmed for a short duration of time and reappeared to vaguely show the outline of what appeared to be a center platform with a bird’s nest symmetrically on either side.
The sounds of a rainstorm filled the concert hall as a contortionist in a human-sized neon green slinky bent her body in ways that made it unclear if she had bones or not. Her outfit sparkled in the spotlight as she gave a coy smile to the audience.
Krystyna Kuncer, an avid viewer of shows at the Staller Center remarked that the Solo Contortion act was her favorite of the night.
“Everything is beautiful” she said referring to the other acts “but it looks like she does not have bones,” Kuncer said in amazement.
Angelina Lantier sat in the front row with her family as she watched the acrobats perform. The four-year-old even got to excitedly shake the extended hand of one of the lions during the Little Lions act. Lantier declared one of her favorite performances of the night, saying “I liked the monkey king because one of the gentleman jumped through the highest ring” she said. “I like acrobats because they are so cool.”
The Director of the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, Zhongtao Zhou, was able to provide insight to the typical life of a performer in the troupe.
While the performers were on stage, they remained unidentifiable. They acted as a unit to complete the acts despite the fact that they are quite different as people.
The members of the troupe range in age from as young as 14 to a maximum of 36. During the finale, each of the performers individual personality came alive as they thrilled the audience one last time.
According to Zhou, each member was chosen through an audition process. Many of those selected have began training to in acrobatics and contorting with the hopes of attaining a professional career at the age of six. Each member of the troupe practices between six and seven hours a day.
Zhou said, “When the performer can do all the tasks required during the rehearsal process, then they are ready.”
The troupe travels between three to six months out of the year and has amazed people globally. Their performances include stops in Mexico, Canada, The United States of America, Germany, Japan and Singapore.
While it may seem impossible with such an intense practice and performance schedule, Zhou assured that the members of the troupe have downtime. Performers are able to spend time with their families.