The China National Acrobatic Troupe: Show of Splendors

Nélida Nassar  06.29.2013

The Show of Splendors of the China National Acrobatic Troupe made of 80 artists, a circus and Li Ning Magic Workshop presented at the Beiteddine Art Festival is often accused of a soulless efficiency. The technical skills of the talented performers abound making the show high on jaw-dropping physical skill but low on wit and simple humanity.

Composed of twelve dazzling acts, each capture the essence of Chinese arts and culture down the generations. The storytelling is narrated bilingually in Chinese and English on vertical Chinese scrolls that frame the stage, alas often projected too quickly to decipher. The performance merges traditional skills of Chinese Kungfu, singing and drama with contemporary style of acrobatics. Contortions, ball juggling, bicycle-balancing, plate spinning, tumbling through hoops, warriors acts among many others, are all infused with energy and liveliness.

In fact, in Spectacular Acrobatics the cyclists are one of the evening’s star turns: a frieze of female octets whose members miraculously maintain their balance on bicycles while additional acrobats jump on their shoulders creating a beautiful pyramid, arching their extended arms with multicolored confetti spinning wheels. And in this cheekily exquisite act, and elsewhere in Chinese Soul, and The Star Dream the puzzle of circus reasserts itself: the most difficult things look easy. I was also taken with the ball-juggling performance, the entertainer dexterity and precision in spiraling and never missing any of his nine illuminated balls was masterful.

Flying high on a trapeze, or through stacked circles, the gymnasts’ spin numerous discs the size of small parasols while standing on their heads or on each other’s shoulders. The visual effect of rotating flower clusters in green, yellow and magenta is at once astounding and kitsch. As always, the acrobatics are impressive, chess pieces turning into warriors. In Splendid, hugely gifted performers challenge the limits of human endurance, body malleability and physicality. Through unbelievable stunts, tricks and Oriental levitation, they deliver a beautifully choreographed series of amazing acrobatic feats.

The production has a theatrical focus, and it not distracted by virtuosity alone. The atmosphere is exciting; the music is dynamic – loud and Oriental-inspired – and because this is the circus, show progression happens at breakneck speed.

The performance looks beautiful, thanks to Beiteddine Palace dramatic setting and the opulent video projections. At the end, the miscellaneous performers come together; complete with impressively spectacular gymnasts made up to look like a legend of magic. All gather for a final dance whereby there is a stunning moment when cast members seem to float across the stage like in a fairyland. The attempts at comedy are largely absent; the twelve acts are heavily dependent on physical skills. Adults and children share the excitement of the performance, as much else in the evening, it is visually impressive without making logical sense.

The Show of Splendors of the China National Acrobatic Troupe made of 80 artists, a circus and Li Ning Magic Workshop presented at the Beiteddine Art Festival is often accused of a soulless efficiency. The technical skills of the talented performers abound making the show high on jaw-dropping physical skill but low on wit and simple humanity.

Composed of twelve dazzling acts, each capture the essence of Chinese arts and culture down the generations. The storytelling is narrated bilingually in Chinese and English on vertical Chinese scrolls that frame the stage, alas often projected too quickly to decipher. The performance merges traditional skills of Chinese Kungfu, singing and drama with contemporary style of acrobatics. Contortions, ball juggling, bicycle-balancing, plate spinning, tumbling through hoops, warriors acts among many others, are all infused with energy and liveliness.

In fact, in Spectacular Acrobatics the cyclists are one of the evening’s star turns: a frieze of female octets whose members miraculously maintain their balance on bicycles while additional acrobats jump on their shoulders creating a beautiful pyramid, arching their extended arms with multicolored confetti spinning wheels. And in this cheekily exquisite act, and elsewhere in Chinese Soul, and The Star Dream the puzzle of circus reasserts itself: the most difficult things look easy. I was also taken with the ball-juggling performance, the entertainer dexterity and precision in spiraling and never missing any of his nine illuminated balls was masterful.

Flying high on a trapeze, or through stacked circles, the gymnasts’ spin numerous discs the size of small parasols while standing on their heads or on each other’s shoulders. The visual effect of rotating flower clusters in green, yellow and magenta is at once astounding and kitsch. As always, the acrobatics are impressive, chess pieces turning into warriors. In Splendid, hugely gifted performers challenge the limits of human endurance, body malleability and physicality. Through unbelievable stunts, tricks and Oriental levitation, they deliver a beautifully choreographed series of amazing acrobatic feats.

The production has a theatrical focus, and it not distracted by virtuosity alone. The atmosphere is exciting; the music is dynamic – loud and Oriental-inspired – and because this is the circus, show progression happens at breakneck speed.

The performance looks beautiful, thanks to Beiteddine Palace dramatic setting and the opulent video projections. At the end, the miscellaneous performers come together; complete with impressively spectacular gymnasts made up to look like a legend of magic. All gather for a final dance whereby there is a stunning moment when cast members seem to float across the stage like in a fairyland. The attempts at comedy are largely absent; the twelve acts are heavily dependent on physical skills. Adults and children share the excitement of the performance, as much else in the evening, it is visually impressive without making logical sense.

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