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Peking Acrobats soar into Big Sky

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The Peking Acrobats are a sight to behold, from both a cultural and sheer visual standpoint. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ACBS


BIG SKY – On Saturday Feb. 8, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center will host the Peking Acrobats, an act the New York Post raves will “push the envelope of human possibility.” The group performs jaw-dropping feats that defy the laws of gravity including trick cycling and gymnastic stunts such as backflips through hoops suspended nearly 10 feet above the ground.

“In our center’s seven years, this was easily the fastest we’ve ever sold out of a show,” said John Zirkle, WMPAC’s executive director. “The demand was so high that we approached the group about doing a matinee show for us that same day, and fortunately for us they agreed.

“The earlier show is perfect for families,” Zirkle added. “The performance is going to be astonishing for everyone, but kids in particular will enjoy it and the family can be home before dinner.”

As a testament to their skill, the Peking Acrobats were featured in the 2001 heist classic “Ocean’s Eleven” as the acrobatic troupe from which The Amazing Yen, the contortionist and acrobat required for the heist, was recruited. Qin Shaobo, the actor who portrayed Yen, is an alumnus of the Peking Acrobats, and was a regular touring member of the group before beginning his Hollywood career. Shaobo went on to be a cast member of all three “Ocean’s” sequels.

Chinese acrobatics is an ancient art with colorful variety shows dating to at least the Qin Dynasty, around 200 B.C. Developing lively forms of folk art in the fields as a means of personal entertainment, troupes of farmers would tour the countryside demonstrating their skill in art forms like plate spinning, improbable balancing feats and contortion.

Eventually, these traveling troupes caught the attention of the ruling class and acrobats were elevated from lowbrow populist entertainment to a national art form that was cultivated and revered. Two thousand years later the skills are no less astonishing and the audience has broadened to encompass the globe. The Peking Acrobats is one of the most well-respected acrobatic groups on the planet.

“It’s not just that they’re incredible to watch,” said Rikka Wommack, communications manager for WMPAC. “They also embody and share a rarely seen cultural history, so it’ll be a rich performance on all levels.”

The Peking Acrobats perform on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Visit for tickets and more information.

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