Wuqiao, China

TTV002 Wuqiao Acrobats

Forrest Mallard

One of the most amazing acrobatic acts I have ever seen. I am excited to share this amazing act with you. (If you want to skip directly to the amazing performance, and you don’t want to hear my introduction of the act, jump directly to 2:45 and I promise you’ll be amazed.)

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30.771029, 108.44844

Wuqiao Acrobats
吴桥杂技演员

Name: Dongxue Wang
Name Chinese: 王冬雪
Performance: Rola Bola / Ralarala

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INTRO

In two months I set off on a 5-month adventure.
However, I want to start my travel blob now, before I leave.;
This way I can begin to master the art of visual storytelling, and hopefully create videos that not only entertain but also inspire.

Stay tuned to learn all about the acrobats of the Wuqiao district of China.

I work at a place in Dubai called Global Village. And over the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of working with entertainers from all over the world.

Every season, it is a pleasure to meet the hundreds of new dancers and musicians.
Three years ago, I was introduced to several performers from the Wuqiao Acrobatic school that had just arrived in Dubai to perform at the Global Village China pavilion.

I’ve been working on and off for the past several decades in theatre and live events.
From Broadway to international concert tours, and after the first few decades, I thought I had seen it all.
To work in an industry that I love so much for so long, and then to suddenly see something new.
A type of performance I didn’t even know existed.

I can get kind of excited.

That is what happened when I met the Wuqiao Acrobats.
Each performer with their own unique specialty act.
Each act requiring skills that push the limits to what we think is humanly possible.

With more than one billion people packed into a nation about the size of the United States, there are countless regional specialties within the nation of China — from pickles to porcelain, teapots to tangerines.

But there’s one district in northern China that is famous for producing artists who walk on their hands, juggle tableware and twist themselves into knots — in other words, an entire region of China produces acrobats.

Wuqiao County is home to dozens of acrobatic schools. Locals claim that their county has been turning out acrobats for more than 2,000 years, since the Western Han Dynasty.

Acrobatics hasn’t historically been a well-regarded profession in this ancient land. A long time ago in China, people looked down on acrobats, but things began to change when Chinese acrobatic troupes began touring outside of China. Crowds around the world now love seeing the famous Chinese acrobats, and what was once regarded as a lower-class of employment with very little respect, is now an occupation of honor and quite often international celebrity.

The training extremely hard, and sweat is often mixed with tears. Each acrobatic move must be practiced hundreds or maybe even thousands of times before a student is ready to perform. And after maybe years of training, when the instructor tells the student they have finally perfected their routine, it is a moment in the performer’s life they will never forget.

I still remember the very first time I saw them perform. For each performance, there were several stages as an audience member that I remember experiencing.
– Shock – a moment when what I was seeing hit me like a slap in the face
– Disbelief – a moment when I was sure my eyes were playing tricks on me
– Confirmation – looking around to the people around me to see if they are seeing what I was seeing
– Awe – when I finally accepted what was happening on the stage was indeed actually happening. No tricks, just raw talent. I watched it, unblinking and transfixed, and in those moments I would wish that my friends back home could see this.

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PERFORMANCE

Now, I’d like to introduce you to someone.
The performer that gave me the biggest shock when I first saw her perform years ago.
Dongxue (dong-shu-e).

Her specific acrobatic performance is known as Rola Bola, which is the art of balancing on a plank of wood while teetering on top of a rolling cylinder. But as you will see in a moment, Dongxue takes this to the next level.. actually several levels.

She started training as an acrobat at the age of 4, following in the footsteps of her parents who were also professional acrobats. Her parents guided her in selecting Rola Bola as her specialty and supported her in her training.

Dongxue has now already been performing professionally for 15 years and has toured throughout China, South Korea, Japan, and Dubai.

The performance starts off, impressive enough, by doing some extremely difficult movements and even a handstand, while teetering on a board, rocking back and forth on a cylinder.

From here on out, things get crazy, so I’ll shut up and let you enjoy this.

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After the shock of initially seeing this spectacular act, you can’t help but wonder, ‘Who thought of this?’, ‘How did this performance ever come to be?’ Images of an industrial factory, and suddenly there is a cylinder avalanche. Someone survives by balancing on a stack of cylinders and the immediate thought was “LET’S PUT THAT ON STAGE!”

Regardless of its origin, the millennia of expertise that has gone into the perfection of these impossible arts Given the superior level of super-human talent she possesses, her humbleness is equally as inspiring and breath-taking.

Someday, Dongxue would like to tour Europe. I hope she gets there and becomes a star.

For me, Dongxue has inspired me to someday visit this Wuqiao district in China. A tiny area on this planet Earth that has produced superhuman for over 1000 years.

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Special thanks to Meredith Malony and Seth Felson for giving me great notes on my original edit.

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