_Check out a slideshow of the performance here. _
From the moment the metallic sound of gongs reverberated throughout the dark theater, the drama intensified in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall as audience members expectantly watched the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats perform awe-inspiring feats on stage. The Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats were brought to the College of William and Mary by Alma Mater Productions Tuesday night. Combining highly technical acrobatics with traditional Chinese culture through dance, music and costumes, they performed before a large and excited audience of students, faculty and local residents.
Beginning with a nod toward Chinese dance, the precision and graceful elegance of the performers’ synchronized movements were immediately evident, and remained fundamental constants throughout the performance. This fluidity and precision of movement allowed the performers to transition seamlessly from one style of feats to the next as well as incorporate their own cultural flair into their acrobatic stunts.
However, the most impressive aspect of their routine was clearly the seemingly impossible acrobatics. In every scene, the performers were able to not only astound the audience with their strength, flexibility and balance, but were also able to capture its attention by constantly increasing the difficulty of the acts. By consistently outdoing their last feat, the performers managed to heighten the drama and excitement in the theater, making the performance even more enjoyable for the audience members.
Another extremely impressive aspect of the Golden Acrobats’s routine was the versatility it required on the part of the performers. The variety of stunts included, but was not limited to, balancing objects while contorting their bodies, holding difficult poses that required enormous amounts of strength, and juggling multiple objects while doing flips and rolls. It is incredible to think that one relatively small group of performers could be so well versed in such a large variety of acts. Even more impressive was the teamwork and trust displayed by the acrobats during their routines. In order to perform many of the difficult feats, the performers had to rely completely on their fellow acrobats, trusting that they would be able both to continue the action.
However, as impressive as the entire showcase was, it was by no means flawless. Occasionally the performers would drop one of the objects tthey were so painstakingly trying to balance or juggle. At times their attempts looked far from effortless, and the tension in their bodies was obvious. Nevertheless, as true professionals, the acrobats managed to maintain their composures, never allowing the audience to see any measure of disappointment or frustration in their faces. Honestly, the presence of flaws in their routines did nothing to detract from the dramatic quality of the presentation. By observing these errors, the audience was reminded of how difficult the maneuvers actually were, which allowed for a better appreciation of the performance as a whole. Because the audience recognized that mistakes could occur, it was much more aware of the inherent danger which ensured that its members constantly at the edge of their seats during the more perilous feats.
Perhaps the highlight of the night was the act in which a young acrobat balanced on the top of a collection of highly stacked chairs. Playing off of the possibility of error and the general of his stunt, the performer engaged the audience, asking if it would like to see one more stunt. Afraid for this man’s life, the audience responded back with a chorus of “no” but was ignored; the acrobat added yet another chair, and proceeded to balance on it with one arm. Earning a thunderous applause, this stunt was the pinnacle of the night’s performance, representing the strength and grace with which the entire company moved.
Despite several rather superficial flaws, the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats never failed to impress, keeping everyone in the theater entertained with both their excellent acrobatics and artful Chinese dance.