Chi' Chinese Acrobats Oct. 22, 2005
Chi’ Chinese Acrobats at Cerritos: On Balance: Amazing
By Glen Creason
The first thought I have in describing the visit of “Chi’ Chinese Acrobats” to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is how to avoid saying the word amazing a hundred times. Attending with family, including my Mom who has as many years as keys on a piano we all gazed like wide-eyed kids at the performance on Saturday evening. The Chi’ in their name is derived from the Taoist philosophy and the principal of balance in the universe. This is at the center of seventeen portions of acrobat amazements, which the troupe makes look easy, but certainly are the product of years of intensive practice and study. The program is varied and fast-paced but the second level of their art is that no one seems to sweat and the few minor misses were swamped by dozens and dozens of split second timing maneuvers that boggled the senses of the large audience. All of this was presented in a modern, rather dazzling setting filled with inventive lighting, stark music, dramatic sets and bold costuming.
There are forty members under the direction of leader Liu Chun Jie who never seem to slow under a brisk trot while taking on the performance area that in this case meant almost the way to the ceiling of the center. The opening gambits of “zhong fan,” a “group contortion” and “Spanish web” showcased the ensemble but when the ladies juggled large parasols with their feet, crisply defying mortal potential the show began to take on a dramatic tension that continued to its conclusion around two hours later. The “hoop diving” demanded tremendous athletic abilities from the men, including some NBA quality hops in reaching hoops about rim level on a basketball court. They were not dunking but diving through these hoops. There were seven women spinning eight plates each as they gracefully danced a delicate and flawless choreography. Fifty-six plates! That’s near the number my daughter left in the sink on my last vacation. There was the astounding balance of a beautiful lady balancing six glasses of wine on glass panes while holding the pole in her mouth and swinging on a trapeze. Really! The first half ended with thirteen acrobats riding on one small bike. I can recall our own record on the old Schwinn at maybe three. Intermission allowed us to settle down a bit but the second half was just more senses defying anti-gravity. My personal favorites were the seemingly effortless scaling and sliding up and down of poles while stopping on a dime inches from the floor and giving nine Yuan change. There was also the nerve-racking seven chairs plus platform stack and balanced done to perfection Also, an utterly charming beauty flipping metal bowls from her feet to the top of her head while riding a flimsy unicycle. One of the trademark sets is the “silk robe” which is an enchanting display of female strength, stamina and grace done while spinning up and down a thirty foot length of silk material. In the crowd, children, their parents and octogenarians gazed, mesmerized by the machinations of these acrobats from far off China all thinking basically the same thing: Amazing!