Friday, January 30, 2009

Flying High With Dreams

After much anticipation (all told, five months), and a few mishaps with timing (we now know that 17:15 and 19:00 mean 5:15 and 7:00, respectively), we attended the Beijing Chaoyang Theater Acrobatic World. The young men and women who performed took their trade of thrilling the audience very seriously. Hailing from earthquake-stricken Sichuan, this troupe was eager to get back to telling the stories of old, with moves and routines that left us with our chins dropped for an entire hour (which was about as much of the heart-stopping action I could take). From men balancing on seesaws atop other men balancing on seesaws and flipping bowls on to their heads, to women who we able to contort their bodies as if they were boneless, each segment held us in awe. Perhaps the thrill of the evening, though, was two men who performed in a contraption that resembled a large axle with two rotating wheels around it. First, the men were inside the wheels, walking and rotating the entire contraption. Then they jumped outside the wheels and walked there in sync with one another. As if this was not enough, at one point, one of the men put a bag over his head so he couldn't see where he was walking while on the outside of the wheel. Next, the other man jumped rope while on the outside...All without safety lines!

Cutest moment of the evening was when a little girl, who couldn't have been more than eight years old, worked with five other young girls to contort their bodies and pile into amazing displays. Dressed in costumes resembling little lotus flowers, their dedication to acrobatics at such a young age is simply beyond understanding.

Oh, and did I mention the thirteen women on one bike? I could go on and on...

Despite being one of the more expensive Beijing activities (at 200 kuai per person), the thrills and skills we enjoyed were worth the qian and the wait. I'm already researching stages for our next acrobatic excursion. Luckily, there are three or four venues of this type in Beijing.



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