Chinese acrobats entered international competition for the first time in 1956 and have since achieved excellent results. Sun Tai's Mimicry, Jin Yeqin and his sister's Trick Cycling, Xia Juhua's Bowl Balancing and Qiao Pinghai's Plate Spinning as well as Scrambling for the Bench and Pole Climbing by the Soldiers Acrobatic Troupe won gold medals at the Warsaw International Acrobatic Competition and World Youth Festival. Various other performances won silver and bronze medals, as well as other honors.
Prince Rainier of Monaco meets Chinese gold medallists
Chinese acrobatic arts have scored even bigger strides on the world stage since China introduced its reform and opening policies in 1978. In December 1981, Chinese acrobats participated in the Fifth Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris and amazed the acrobatic world with brilliant performances that won the top prize -- the President of the Republic of France Award. In ensuing years, they captured the same in the Eighth (1981) through 12th (1987) Festival International du Cirque Monte-Carlo in Monaco, with three Chinese acrobatic acts winning the first prize known as the Clown d'Or.
Chinese acrobats won four medals, in their debut at the 1985 Tenth Circus World Championships in London and won 22 of 25 medals, including the Blackpool Trophy for highest scoring performance and the team championship in the following year at the 11th World Acrobatics Championships. The unique performances presented by Chinese acrobats showed the brilliant charm of Eastern Culture and won the admiration of foreign critics who praised China as the world's No.1 country for acrobatics.
China has continued to lead the world in acrobatic art throughout the 1990s. China's Handstands on One Hand by Fang Yuan and He Ying from Fujian Province and
Kicking Bowls from High Unicycles by Xurenhua, Tana, Shandan and Toya from Inner Mongolia won gold medals at the 13th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain and the Festival Mondial du Cirque de l'Avenir held on January 24-31, 1990. However, the most exciting item was Juggling Spinning Rugs with Both Hands and Feet by the six-year-old Little Grain of Rice from the Soldiers Acrobatic Troupe under the Guangzhou Military Command. The item captured the President of the Republic of France Award, the top prize, on two occasions at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris.
Chinese acrobats won a number of awards during the 17th Festival International du Cirque Monte-Carlo in Monaco, including the Clown d'Or for their traditional Double Bowl-Balancing Act. Bowl Balancing, which has won five international gold prizes, was performed as early as in the Bai Xi (Variety Show) of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). In the 1950s, Xia Juhua created the novel stunt that combines jujitsu and balancing skills by nipping bowls handstand with feet and putting them on the head based on thoroughly inheriting previous balancing techniques, breaking away the old form that has existed for thousands of years.
Former German President von Veizsacker meets Chinese acrobats visiting Bonn
China has won the President of the Republic of France Award, the world's most coveted prize for acrobatics, a number of times. It has won the award for both group performances such as Rhapsody in Silver by the reputed Guangzhou Soldiers Acrobatic Troupe and individual performances such as the beautiful and graceful Rolling with Cups of Water by Xu Meihua, a young woman from a small acrobatic troupe of Anqing, Anhui Province.
Chinese acrobatics owes its success in international competition to its long history and unique creativity. Almost all prize-winning items in international competitions are traditional items that have gained increasing appeal over the past 40-odd years due to constantly improving techniques and adding new stunts.