sealPurdue News

National Acrobats of Taiwan bring ancient art to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The National Acrobats of Taiwan will perform a program highlighting acrobatic skills, exotic dances and challenging feats at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, in the Elliott Hall of Music.

Tickets are $24, $20, $14 and $10 for general public, $18, $15, $12 and $10 for Purdue students and children K-12. Tickets can be purchased at Purdue box offices or charged by phone at (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW. The group is presented by Purdue Convocations.

Since the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 240 A.D.), dramatic folk arts and variety shows have blended with the deepest roots of Chinese civilization. The performers of the National Acrobats of Taiwan often use common objects, such as chairs, tables, poles, ladders, bowls, plates, bottles and jars as stage properties. Their movements and flexible showmanship have provided entertainment and relaxation to people from all walks of life for centuries.

The members of this troupe are all graduates of the Fu Hsing Academy. The academy is dedicated to preserving the systematic teaching methods of ancient China to cultivate performers of folk dramatic arts in order to preserve the ancient acrobatic art form.

The National Acrobats of Taiwan are generally considered the foremost company of its kind. They have toured around the world to entertain and to introduce new generations to traditional acrobatics.

The National Fu Hsing Dramatic Arts Academy was originally founded as a private school in 1957 and became a national academy in 1968. For the academy's Chinese acrobatic department, entrance examinations are given to 10- and 11-year-old children every other year. Once accepted, students begin with basic training for waist, legs and head and continue on to advanced courses in acrobatics, magic, dance and martial arts.

The Fu Hsing Academy recently joined with the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts to become one of the largest and most prestigious arts academies in Asia. This change also precipitated the change of the name of the school's performance arm from the National Acrobats of China to its current National Acrobats of Taiwan.

"The great thing about a performance like this is that it's something the entire family can enjoy together," says Convocations director Todd Wetzel. "The things this company will do will astound 60-year-olds every bit as much as 6-year-olds."

The performance will include:

• The Flag Dance – a clever synchronization of waving flags, considered one of the classic exhibitions of the Chinese acrobatic art form.

• Diabolo spinning – The diabolo is a special acrobatic spinning wheel played with by children in ancient China. Accompanied by a traditional Chinese melody, the acrobats throw, coil, toss and cross diabolos.

• Bicycles and unicycles – A unicycle rider kicks four bowls up to the top of his head. This feat is topped when more than 10 acrobats ride a single bicycle together while performing a variety of tricks and moves.

• Plate dancing – Originating in the Han Dynasty, plate dancing is a difficult combination of synchronized movements being executed while balancing plates on long sticks. When complete, the acrobats with their balanced plates create a tableau representing the outstretched arms of the Phoenix.

• The Candle Dance – In the beginning, an actress dances to demonstrate her agility and finesse. Then candlesticks are placed on the soles of her feet, as well as on her forehead, hands and mouth as the dance continues.

Clowns, magicians and a number of other acrobatic acts will round out the evening.

CONTACT: Larry Sommers, Purdue Convocations, (765) 494-5045,;

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of a scene from the performance is available at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;