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Acrobats fly high, promote diversity at UWRF

September 25, 2008

It was a night of high-flying tricks and dangerous maneuvers Sept. 16 as the world-famous Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats performed in the Knowles Complex on campus.

After performing at UW-River Falls last spring, the acrobats made a return visit last week to showcase their unique skills to a packed house of students and community members.

“The agency [Golden Dragon Acrobats] contacted us about booking them on campus and DAC [Diversity Awareness Committee] and SEAC [Student Entertainment and Arts Committee] thought it would be a fun, entertaining and unique show,” Student Event Coordinator Karyn Wells said in an email interview.

According to Wells, the decision to invite the Golden Dragon Acrobats to campus again had much to do with the fact that many students were unable to see them last year due to lack of seating.

“They [DAC and SEAC] thought it would be a good idea to invite the Golden Dragon Acrobats to campus again, as they had to turn away hundreds of people last year when it was in Abbott Concert Hall,” she said. “Since the event took place in Knowles Complex, we were able to seat more than 600 additional people with a total attendance of approximately 1,000.”

Throughout the show, the acrobats demonstrated solid flips, tumbling and balancing acts. They also created interesting visual shapes and images.

“It was amazing,” student Christina Bergren said.

The act which received the most applause was near the end of the show when one of the male acrobats continued to stack chairs on each other and perform breathtaking acts of strength and balance. He was nearly touching the ceiling of the Knowles Complex and shouted out “One more?” to the audience. He then proceeded to pile another chair onto the stack to further push his limits.

“The chair guy was really cool,” freshman Ashley Cress said. “I couldn’t breathe!”

The Golden Dragon Acrobats “represent the best of a time honored tradition that began more than 27 centuries ago…our company has traveled around the world to all 50 states and to over 65 countries on five continents,” according to their Web site.

The 16 acrobats, who have been training in the art form since youth, have won several awards around the world, including the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) Entertainer of the Year Award.

Wells attended the show and said she felt that “it was a huge success. I was pleased to see so many of our students attend this event and the audience seemed engaged and excited the entire performance.”

Wells also said she believes that the acrobats’ appearance on campus serves to teach about “the importance of strength, flexibility and teamwork – not just on the stage but in our daily lives as well…the acrobatic art has existed in China for more than 2,000 years and I hope this inspired individuals to learn more about, and appreciate, this art form.”

Aside from the acrobats, there are many other Wyman Series events sponsored by DAC and SEAC, including the annual “Unity in the Community” to be held next April.

“I think [events like this] really expose people to different cultures and makes it fun,” Cress said. “I’d definitely come back next year.”

Wells said the goal of the program is to raise awareness.

“An important part of the collegiate experience involves broadening one’s horizons and learning about other people, cultures and traditions,” Wells said. “Diversity Awareness Committee strives to create awareness of the unique qualities of all students at UW-River Falls and, ultimately, celebrate these new differences.”