Chinese acrobats come to campus

The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China dove, flipped and twirled Wednesday night in Urbana as part of its inaugural tour of the United States and Canada.

The National Acrobats’ Wednesday performance in Foellinger Great Hall brought a crowd of 757 people.

“Krannert has had other acrobats from China before and they were well received, so we wanted to bring the National Acrobats here,” said Bridget Lee-Calfas, public information director for Krannert. “I hope the audience gains an appreciation for all the training and rehearsal that goes into the show and that they’ll marvel at the performance.”

For two hours, the National Acrobats entertained the audience with feats such as juggling eight balls at once, spinning ten plates at a time, and skipping and catching diabolos.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Rachel Sward, senior in LAS. “I liked the flying meteors act when they threw the shining ropes.”

Morgan MacFarlane, senior in AHS, said she found the plate spinning act impressive.

“It was amazing when they balanced, head to head, while spinning the plates,” MacFarlane said.

Based in Beijing, the National Acrobats was established by the government of the People’s Republic of China in 1950. It owns a school for acrobatic training and has over 150 acrobatic resident performers and over 500 acrobatic students of all ages. In its 61 years, the National Acrobats has traveled to forty countries, including Australia, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Italy, Japan and Russia.

“The National Acrobats did not tour abroad until the mid-70’s because of Communist-run China,” said David Cauley, tour production manager.

The National Acrobats tour annually on an intense schedule. According to Madelaine Collinson, the tour manager for the National Acrobats, the first performance of their U.S. tour was in northern California on Sept. 16 and their last will be in Naples, Florida on Dec. 7.

“The length of this U.S. tour is the biggest difference between performing in other countries and performing in a country as big as the United States,” Cauley said. “Whereas in a country like Germany they may do five or six performances and then go home. Here they go for three months and cover the entire country.”

Thursday’s performance will also be at 7 p.m. in Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $10 for University students and between $10 and $32 for all others.