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Mar 2, 2016

Peking Acrobats bring superhuman feats to Peace Center

Greenville News

Paul Hyde, [email protected] 5:33 p.m. EST March 1, 2016

Superhuman feats of strength, endurance and agility?

It’s all in a dazzling day’s work for The Peking Acrobats, who arrive at Greenville’s Peace Center on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The 25-member troupe specializes in an array of jaw-dropping acts, including trick-cycling, precision tumbling, flips and amazing contortions.

The group’s show, intended for the whole family, also features music, dance, and colorful costumes and scenery.

Originally from China, The Peking Acrobats have been featured on numerous TV specials such as Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous,” “Ellen’s Really Big Show,” “The Wayne Brady Show” and in all of the popular Ocean movies directed by Steven Soderbergh.

The acrobats even set the Guinness World Record by balancing six people on six chairs more than 21 feet in the air, on live TV.

In addition to its Sunday performance, the group will perform a Monday morning show primarily for school groups.

The Greenville News recently spoke by email to Cynthia A. Dike-Hughes, co-producer of The Peking Acrobats for the past 30 years.

The Greenville News: Who’s the target audience for the Peking Acrobats’ show?

Hughes: Our show appeals to everyone from little kids to grandparents.

Greenville News: Please tell us a little of the history of the Peking Acrobats.

Hughes: The Peking Acrobats were the brainchild of Don Hughes, producer (my husband and “partner in crime”) and our director, Ken T. Hai, the artistic director of the show. They met with the Cultural Performing Arts Agency in China back in 1986. In an effort to bring Chinese culture to the West and to break down barriers between people, The Peking Acrobats were born. The acrobats and musicians are from all over China, so they come from many different troupes around that country.

Greenville News: What can the audience expect in addition to acrobatics?

Hughes: There is choreographed dance, beautiful music (with musicians playing exotic and beautiful Chinese instruments), comedy, clowns and more, all to create the atmosphere of a Chinese carnival.

Greenville News: Please tell us about some of the feats the company will perform.

Hughes: We have a lot of surprises for our fans in this, our 30th Anniversary Tour. The favorite acts are all there: the plate spinning, the contortionists, the jugglers, the gymnasts tumbling and flipping and turning, performing all their incredible feats of dexterity and defying gravity on a daily basis!

Greenville News: Is there one feat that is the most awe-inspiring of them all?

Hughes: In my opinion, all of the acts are spectacular, and require incredible skill and bravery, but I think the “showstopper” is our Chair Acts. We have a single male performer who climbs atop a tower of chairs and performs incredible maneuvers on top of the tower, suspended on glass bottles. Not to be outdone, our lady performers climb atop a pagoda of chairs and perform handstands, simultaneously! Wow!

For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

YOU CAN GO

What: The Peking Acrobats

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Peace Center Concert Hall, downtown Greenville

Tickets: $15 to $35

Information: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org