Gravity? Ha! Peking Acrobats bounce into town

Performance at Jim Rouse Theatre part of Festival of Arts

June 13, 2014

If most of us consider it an accomplishment to walk and chew gum at the same time, the Peking Acrobats are way beyond the human norm when it comes to physical dexterity.

They'll demonstrate their extreme feats when appearing at a Columbia Festival of the Arts event on Saturday, June 21 at 8 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake.

These jugglers, tumblers, cyclists, gymnasts and contortionists do things so difficult that you wonder how in the world they're able to do some of them.

Actually, where the world is concerned, the Peking Acrobats set the world record for a routine known as the Human Chair Stack. Televised on the Fox TV series "Guinness Book Primetime," this particular stunt involved six people balanced atop six chairs in a vertical stack that extended 21 feet up in the air. All this was done without wearing safety lines. It definitely qualifies as a stunt you should not try at home.

If such accomplishments seem to come naturally to this 26-member troupe, it's surely relevant that these performers are drawing upon 2,000-year-old traditional arts. That's why such acrobats enjoy an esteemed cultural status in China.

Audiences outside of China have long enjoyed seeing them perform, because the Peking Acrobats made their Western debut in 1986 and have regularly toured throughout North America and Europe.

The troupe also appeared on numerous TV shows. And it even appeared in Steven Soderbergh's movie "Ocean's 11," with one of the troupe's members also appearing in that movie's two sequels. Having one foot in China and the other foot in Hollywood is a graceful acrobatic stretch for these performers.

The Peking Acrobats perform Saturday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road, in Columbia. Tickets are $35- $50, $30- $45 for seniors and students. For tickets, call 1-800-955-5566 or go to http://www.tickets.com. For Columbia Festival of the Arts info, call 410-715-3044 or go to http://www.columbiafestival.org.

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