Chinese acrobatics phones home with ET makeover

11:12, December 01, 2009      

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Chinese acrobatics phones home with ET makeover

We're not in Kansas anymore: CNAT's steel forest of the future. Photo: courtesy of CNAt

The China National Acrobatic Troupe (CNAT) has decided to boldly go where no one has gone before, considering the group's latest production, Goodbye, UFO.

It's not often that audiences get the chance to catch a Chinese acrobatics shows where its performers are dressed as if they were extra-terrestrials. The show follows a dramatic plot set in a polluted metropolis where aliens have invaded the planet.

CNAT is hoping that its unique take on a classic Chinese cultural product is innovative enough to push the traditional art form into unexplored territories.
Zhao Liang, assistant to CNAT's general manager, told the Global Times that their intention is to attract younger audiences away from cinemas, and to get them back in theaters.

"The show sounds like a science-fiction story, and many young people will love it. But at the core of the performance is still traditional acrobatic skills and maneuvers," said Zhao. "Acrobatics shows date back to 475-221 BC, but they are becoming less popular nowadays," said Zhao.

In the past, Chinese acrobatics enjoyed status as a household name, and at one point drew in approximately one billion dollars (US) in revenues worldwide, according to Zhao. However, since the 90s, theater attendance has plummeted and producers have been left wondering where their audiences went.

"People have gradually left theaters because of the same and dull programming schedules, year after year. What can we do to save this old art form? It's time to make a change," said Zhao, stating CNAT's aims for promoting innovative acrobatics shows. "We've added elements of singing and storytelling to this show, as seen in western dramas, to boost the art of acrobatics itself."

CNAT invited stage and set designers who have worked on Broadway to create the sets at the Beijing Exhibition Theater, where Goodbye, UFO will first be seen.

"Elements from outer space, like space ships, robots and planets, combined with the show's colorful costumes and traditional acrobatics mix to create incredibly brilliant scenes. In this way we successfully illustrate the touching story we are trying to tell," said Zhao.

Where: Beijing Exhibition Theatre, Xicheng District

When: Dec 17-21, Thursday to Monday, 7:30 pm

Prices: 80 to 1280 (VIP) yuan

Contact: 6417-7845

Source: Global Times
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