Young actress Wei Sina stretches her limbs before her acrobatic show at the 10th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards held over Sept 16-21 in Penglai, Shandong province.
The 10th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards were held in Shandong province, and the competition showed that Chinese acrobatics is still going strong.
It is the moment the audience gives a collective gasp of astonishment as Wei Sina, a 16-year-old acrobatic performer, does the splits balanced upside down on one hand on a rotating 3.5-meter high installation.
Suddenly she twists her body as if about to fall and the audience gasps again, this time in shock. But slowly, she stretches her body and poses with her feet pointing to the high ceiling; the audience responds with thunderous applause.
Titled Wings, the 15-minute performance features Wei playing the role of a little bird trying to fly high in heavy rain.
"I am satisfied with my performance because I finished all the movements without any fault. It's a breakthrough for me," says Wei with a deep breath.
Wei, who was born and grew up in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, started practicing acrobatics at age 6, and she has already won a number of national awards. She is a performer with the Guangxi Acrobatic Troupe in Nanning.
Wings was one of the 30 performances that made it to the final round of the 10th China Acrobatics Golden Chrysanthemum Awards. Launched in 1987, the competition is held every three years and is the highest award for acrobatics in the country.<
Other acrobatic performances include "playing with bowls" by a troupe from Inner Mongolia.
This year's competition was held in Penglai in Shandong province from Sept 16 to 21, with more than 28 Chinese acrobatic troupes, featuring over 500 acrobats in total, presenting dazzling, fresh choreographic pieces.
"We've selected 30 programs from hundreds of programs. They represent the highest level of China's acrobatics," says Wang Rengang, secretary-general of the China Acrobats Association, a governmental organization focusing on promotion and development of Chinese acrobatics, founded in 1981.
Since 2005, the China Acrobats Association has initiated a number of plans to revive the traditional art form, including giving financial support to acrobatics troupes, lowering ticket prices and offering the troupes more opportunities to perform both at home and abroad.
"Acrobatics has a long history in China. It is a family entertainment that crosses borders. We've taken China's acrobatics troupes to perform and compete overseas, and they have received warm feedback and lots of awards," Wang says.
Wang says that the history of acrobatics in China dates back to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, but like many traditional Chinese art forms, acrobatics faced a decline with the challenges from contemporary entertainments.
"It takes at least five years to train a new actor to a professional level. So lots of young people give up the idea right at the beginning, which has led to a lack of talent," Wang says.