The Incredible Acrobats Of China


Hello, or Ni Hao (knee how) in Chinese.  Today’s review is on The Incredible Acrobats of China.  I hadn’t seen the show in several years and it has evolved a lot as a show.  I really love the new theater they are in now, the New Shanghai Theatre.  It was well built and suits the acrobatics and gymnastics the performers go through.  The stage is 3 foot off the ground, which makes every seat in the house a good one to see the feats of strength and skill.  There is no photography allowed at the theater so I could not take pictures.

The show opens with several performers on stage moving about to music and big drums at the back of the stage.  You get the feel of being at a Chinese parade with a big dragon weaving between everyone else. 

First to perform were the Muscle Men.  It’s amazing what these guys can do.  They would interlock arms or legs and balance against each other with outstretched bodies.  It’s hard to describe but suffice it to say, there were a lot of ooo’s and ahhh’s from the crowd.  7 Chinese women twirling plates followed them.  It was said that all women acrobats had to be able to perform this feat.  Some were spinning 4 plates in each hand, some 5 plates, but all were twisting and rolling over their shoulders while still spinning these plates.  One of the ladies climbed on top of benches and bent over backwards and plucked a flower from a vase below her, with her teeth, while still spinning those plates.

Out come the Hoop Diving guys showing off their skills.  They had 3 hoops to start and kept increasing the number till the last hoop was about 10 feet off the ground.  The incredible part was that they did not use a springboard; they just ran fast enough and jumped, making it thru the hoop without touching it.  I was a little disappointed that they were dressed in regular street clothes and not in Chinese-looking apparel, but that didn't stop me from enjoying their performance.  Next up was a woman who stacked chairs on top of 4 vases and climbed higher and higher till she was well above the stage.  For her finale’ she had 3 blocks for each hand she stood end to end and did a handstand on top of them.  She pushed the blocks away and dropped to the top of the chair tower she built while maintaining the handstand. 

A new act for my eyes was the next performer spinning a large heavy vase with her legs.  She didn’t just spin it, she controlled it in every way.  She got it rolling very fast, like she was running, and stopped it quickly.  I know if I were up there, the vase would have been history – broken to a million pieces.  To top off her act, she replaced the vase with a 4 leg wooden table.  She controlled it as well, making it spin on the table edge, then on one corner, then on one table leg.  Kids – Don’t try this one at home!

We were treated to some old favorites next, Vase Juggling – tossing up a 35 lb vase and catching it on his foot or back of his neck, Chinese Yo-Yo’s – passing the yo-yo’s back and forth between 8 girls quickly while performing gymnastics, Gymnastic girls – contortionist girls who twist and turn their bodies in all sorts or ways.  The end of this segment was 6 girls on top of one another, bent backwards, creating what I can only describe as a Totem Pole.  Makes my back hurt just thinking about bending that way.

My personal favorite was a new act for me, a boy balancing himself on a slack wire.  I’ve seen tight wire acts, but never slack.  Made me think of walking across a rope bridge and how hard it is to keep my balance.  He, however, was graceful on the wire.  During his act, he lowered himself onto one knee, juggled hoops while on one foot, did a shoulder roll, did the splits – the hard way, rode a unicycle, and did a handstand walk along the wire and back again.  He ended the act making the rope swing while riding it – sideways like a standing swing.  Incredible!

The whole audience enjoyed the next act.  A beautiful woman balanced a platter on the bridge of her nose and added wine glasses and more platters on top.  20 glasses in all, and to top it all off, she put a vase on the top platter.  You would think that would be enough – nope.  She danced while all this balanced on her nose.  Follow this with another young lady with “chandeliers” of cups that she rested on the bottoms of her feet and hands and another that had an arm she could put in her mouth and she “rolled” from her back to stomach to back while each chandelier stayed upright. 

The last part of the show was an aerial ballet by a young woman who moved to the ballet music while doing a handstand.  She switched between hands but you have to admire the strength in her shoulders and arms.  Something else new to me was a martial arts demonstration.  Certainly something to see.  Final act of the show was the roller skaters.  They had a platform about 6 foot round they were on.  When they spun around in a circle and the one girl was literally spinning on a neck harness, the crowd cheered.

I loved the show and am glad I went back to see it again.  I am told the show changes several times a year. 

To make sure you get a chance to see the show, go to or call 417-239-4274.  Tell them you read the review on and you will get $4 off an adult ticket.