Acclaimed acrobats amaze Laxson audience

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Photo courtesy of Chico Performances

Audience members sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation when the red curtain rose on the Laxson Auditorium stage Tuesday night. The crowd, a mixture of young and old with a dash of Chico State students, came to watch the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China’s “Cirque Peking.”

The nearly sold-out show, presented by Chico Performances, featured dancing, contorting and tumbling. The crowd was amazed after each set as the stunts escalated in skill and impressiveness.

The show did start off a little rough. There was an awkward silence in the opening act as a man clad in what resembled a Las Vegas, Nevada, showgirl or Lady-Gaga-esque costume strutted onto the stage while a performer fake-drummed off-beat.

But the acrobats quickly regained the confidence of the crowd when they launched into the “Drum Girls” act. They contorted their bodies while balancing drums on their feet, creating scenes that were visually compelling and breath-taking.

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Photo courtesy of Chico Performances

The performers also showed a bit of a humorous side with “Kicking Bowls on Unicycles.” They pedaled onto the stage on a multitude of cycles, from miniature models to those that appeared over seven feet tall, eliciting laughs from the audience.

Humor also shined in the “Little Lions” sequence, which featured child acrobats tumbling across the stage. This provided a nice break between some of the more intense sets of the show, such as “Russian Bar,” “Group Lasso” and “Adagio of Strength.”

“Russian Bar” featured two acrobats who flipped into the air and landed on a slim bar that rested on other troupe members’ shoulders. “Group Lasso” took a different approach and featured acrobats flipping in the air while using rope-swinging skills that would set most cowboys to shame.

The set that received the most applause from the audience, however, was “Adagio of Strength,” which featured a man and a woman in a performance that could only be described as a contortionists’ tango.

Despite a few hiccups in the delivery of some acts and music transitions, the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China put on an amazing show that is definitely worth seeing more than once.

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Photo courtesy of Chico Performances

Kristen Moran can be reached at [email protected] or @kristenvmoran on Twitter.