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Peking Acrobats bring ancient art to Pueblo

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There are some shows that leave even the most world-weary cynic with his jaw in his lap. With the ubiquity of "humilia-tainment" like Fear Factor, the various Bachelor cat fights and the all-pervasive debasement-chasing Jackass, shows that offer up entertaining art that requires genuine craft and dedication is like a liquor store open on Sunday -- so rare, so refreshing (Cirque du Soleil and the magic shows of David Blaine come to mind).

Such are the gymnastic marvels of the Peking Acrobats, a troupe of Chinese performers carrying on the 2,000-year-old tradition of ooh-inspiring balancing acts, tumbles, contortions and juggles. It's circus in its most essential form.

Balancing beauties on bicycles, one-armed stacked chair-stands, headstand plate spins, lion dances and all varieties and combinations thereof are to be expected.

The tradition of Chinese acrobatics, according to the lore, is tied to a long history of folk entertainment that became popular in the courts of the emperors. More recently, the Peking Acrobats are said to have evolved from the Great China Circus of the 1920s. They officially formed as an international touring troupe in the 1950s, and the group is now on its 17th U.S. tour under the direction of the renowned Hai family acrobats. Previous tours included a three-week stop on Broadway and a world-record-setting six-chair balancing act for The Guinness Book of World Records, so it should be just the kind of spectacle to take your mind off these dark times.

--Noel Black

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