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Archive for Thursday, February 9, 1995

STUPENDOUS HUMAN TRICKS THRILL CROWD

February 9, 1995

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— The Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats tested their skills and a Baldwin audience's nerves during a performance Wednesday.

Sure, human beings can do stuff like live in space and pole vault 20 feet. But can one be used as a jump rope?

Six hundred people learned the answer (yes) Wednesday at Baker University, where the limits of human agility were tested by the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats.

Beauty met the bizarre as the 18 acrobats performed such acts as:

  • "Unicycle Tea Cups." Acrobat on seven-foot unicycle balances three cups on right foot, flips them into air simultaneously, catches all three on head.
  • "Ring of Fire." Acrobats, blindfolded at times, hurl selves through flaming ring lined with curved knives.
  • "Foot Juggling." Acrobat spins and twirls table and vase with feet. Finale: Spins two performers on pole.

Liu Chi Chang, the group's choreographer, said the performance was as difficult as it looked.

"For just three minutes on stage, you rehearse three years," she said. "So yes, it's a lot of work."

Chang spent the majority of her 11 years with the group as a performer. Like the current performers, who range in age from 14 to 48, she's been an acrobat nearly all her life.

"Here in America, we go through elementary school, junior high school, high school and then college," said Michael Bard, the group's road manager. "In China, you're put into a profession when you're 5."

The Baldwin performance was part of a 37-state U.S. tour that began Jan. 6 in Ventura, Calif., and will end in May in Seattle. After that, the group will return to its home, Taipei, Taiwan, and tour there.

Alice Anne Callahan, chair of the Baker University co-curricular committee, said organizers sought out the acrobats after seeing them perform several years ago in Ottawa. Wednesday marked the group's second visit to Baldwin.

"They're just fantastic," Callahan said.

Their two-hour performance drew laughter, cheers and gasps, sometimes all together.

"Don't sit in it," whispered a young audience member as a performer scaled a 20-foot-high, six-chair tower perched atop four champagne bottles.

He got his wish. Instead of sitting in the chair, the acrobat tipped it backwards and performed a one-handed handstand on it. Afterwards, he wiped his face with a prop cloth and wrung out a stream of "sweat."

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