ZHENGZHOU, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Wei Baohua, 51, and Wu Zhengdan, 41, are the originators of the ballet on-shoulder acrobatic performance in China. They have performed together for 30 years.
The acrobatic play "The Butterfly Lovers," starring Wu and Wei, was performed at the China Acrobatic Festival held in Puyang City, central China's Henan Province, in early November. The ballet on-shoulder act in the play surprised the audience.
At the beginning of 1998, Wei and Wu joined an acrobatic troupe in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. In the troupe, their choreographer was a senior ballet dancer, who added many ballet elements to the practice.
At the end of 1998, the troupe was on a performing tour in Copenhagen.
"After watching our performance, the head of the Royal Danish Ballet said that he liked our performance best, and our play was very consistent with the aesthetic taste of ballet. It was these comments that increased our confidence and inspired us to make a breakthrough in the combination of acrobatics and ballet," said Wei.
At the beginning of practice, they were constantly looking for the most suitable standing point for ballet performance on the body.
"The back area is large and we think it is appropriate, but the back muscles are too soft to stand on, so we put cow leather on it but failed, and we put five layers of plywood on it, and we succeeded," said Wei.
But their leader thought it was not difficult enough for acrobats. They planned to spin on the back. In the process of turning, Wu's center of gravity changed. Wei needed to stabilize her with the reaction force according to her center of gravity change. After a lot of practice, they finally succeeded.
For acrobatics, the difficulty increases with the height of the acrobats' performance.
After countless times of exploration and practice, from the end of 1998 to September 1999, they completed the preliminary combination of acrobatics and ballet, and succeeded in standing on tiptoe on the back, on shoulders with two feet, and standing on tiptoe on the head with one foot.
In 2000, to participate in the fifth National Acrobatic Competition, they raised the difficulty of their performance -- from standing on tiptoe on the shoulders with two feet, to rotating between shoulders with the right foot standing on tiptoe.
At that time, Wei's shoulders were repeatedly run over by wooden ballet shoes hundreds of times every day. In 2000, they combined the ballet on-shoulders act in their work and won the first prize of the Golden Lion Award in the fifth National Acrobatic Competition.
As a new stunt, the ballet on-shoulder performance had aroused doubt among traditional acrobatics. Some had even asked, "Is this acrobatics?"
At the 26th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 2002, Wu and Wei won the Golden Clown Award, the highest award in the acrobatic field. The ballet on-shoulder act had been recognized by and amazed the world.
"The ballet on shoulder act is a miracle and a collision between eastern and western cultures. We are very lucky to meet such a form of expression in our decades of artistic life," Wu said, adding that ballet is beautiful and their pursuit is not to integrate ballet movements into acrobatics, but to integrate the essence of ballet, the beauty of ballet and acrobatics.
So far, they have made more than 3,000 performances in more than 30 countries. ■