You have to see to believe the Peking Acrobats |

You have to see to believe the Peking Acrobats

Karl Horeis, Appeal Staff Writer

In her shiny, sky-blue costume with hair in two buns, Xaio Ching smiles coyly before she begins her act. Then she tilts her head back and balances a plastic rod on her nose. Keeping it steady with snake-like neck movements, she balances a tray on it and begins stacking glasses with water on top. Assistants come from off stage with more glasses and trays to stack. Lit candles and more water glasses are added to the tower until it stands two feet above her face. Then Ching walks carefully to stage right and the lights reveal a 4-foot ball and teeter-totter behind her. She proceeds to climb — accompanied by gasps from the audience — onto the ball. An assistant then hands her a hula hoop which she extends up and over her teetering stack, lowers to her hips and with the slightest shudder of movement, begins hula hooping. An assistant hands her two trays which she begins spinning on her fingers. With trays spinning on her fingers, a hula hoop going around her waist, balancing a tall stack of glasses and candles on her nose, and rolling back and forth on the ball, Xaio Ching of the People’s Republic of China manages to roll the ball up the teeter totter and the crowd explodes into applause.

“Yoda can’t even do that,” joked technical director Rusty Strauss after the show. “I’m mean she’s using the Force right there.”

In their tight, sparkling costumes, the Peking Acrobats are certain to amaze you. During their performances at the Eldorado Showroom through Jan. 12, the group of 26 tumblers, acrobats, jugglers and comedians will push the boundaries of what you believe is possible.

Employing techniques which can be traced back to acrobats of the Ch’in Dynasty (221-206 B.C.) — the Peking Acrobats perform feats that seem ultra modern in their sophistication. But it all comes down to practice, according to Strauss.

“When we’re all sitting around watching TV, (Ching) will be over there with a wine glass on her nose with two bricks balanced on top,” he says. “She’ll do it for like 40 minutes. That one trick is her life.”

Made up of athletes from the finest troupes in China, the Peking Acrobats sold out 19 consecutive shows in April 2001 at the New Victory Theater on Broadway in Manhattan.

Feats performed by the group include using a little girl, Xu Xaio Mei, as a human jump rope, bending a half-inch thick steel bar (which the audience was able to first test for strength) in spirals around a man’s neck, single-hand stands on a stack of six chairs balanced on four bottles, and cramming 12 people on one bicycle.

Training in these ancient arts begins with children as young as five, who each master one particular trick, according to Strauss.

“Every hand gesture, every movement — they haven’t changed in over 2,000 years of tradition,” he said. “That’s where the whole mesmerizing part comes in.”

If You Go

What: Peking Acrobats

When: 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24-29, Jan. 3-5, 10-12 7 p.m.

Where: Eldorado Showroom, Reno

Tickets: $24.95 plus tax, dinner/show packages are available

Information: (800) 648-5966