By Michael Tseng
Red lanterns hung in from the ceiling and Chinese characters signifying the words “luck” and “prosperity” riddled the walls, pointing to one obvious conclusion: Chinese New Year is here, and with it, a celebration of epic proportions. To honor the year of the dog, the Arcadia Performing Arts Center hosted the Lunar New Year Festival last Friday, featuring a combined traditional/modern eastern performance from the Golden Dragon Acrobats.
As the lights dimmed, a myriad of superhuman marvels landed on stage, ranging from the simple yet mesmerizing thousand hands maneuver, to a brave acrobat balancing on stacked chairs reaching nearly 30 feet. The family-owned acrobat group pushes their bodies to the utter limit, performing feats that the audience could only dream.
Despite having a few mishaps during the performance, the team managed to pull off a strong ending, with the audience gleefully cheering for a job well done. The musical score fit well with the performances, with the drum beat and strong eastern-based melody matching every high jump and backflip. The two-hour long performance emphasized the contortionists and their ability to multi-task, while balancing their bodies in seemingly impossible positions.
Taking its foundation from ancient Chinese cultures, the acrobats utilize traditional techniques and acts, while including modern styles of performing and costume design. According to the lead female performers their favorite performance is ball juggling, where they lie on their backs and use their feet to juggle and balance volleyballs. Other acts included balancing five small chandeliers on each of their four limbs, traditional shield dancing, and riding a bicycle with all sixteen members onboard. Line after line of robust men burst out from behind the curtains, jumping and flipping through hoops.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats originate from Hebei, China, and each member has rehearsed and practiced for at least thirteen years, since they were children. The hard work and effort that they put in is easily visible through their dangerous and otherworldly performance. To these talented artists, performing for an audience and spreading ancient Chinese traditions is their favorite part of being in the group. The acrobat group has been on tour for a month, having performances every other day, and are expected to continue until April.
The crowds of Arcadia were quite moved by the performance, and loud whistles and applause were heard after the performance ended. For most, it would be quite fitting to call this a successful lunar new year festival.