Chinese Acrobats, 2006
Acrobats have been entertaining and perfecting their art in China for more than two thousand years. The art form spread out from China through performances presented along the Silk Road in ancient times. Throughout history, acrobats have played an important role in cultural exchanges between China and other nations. In the past 35 years, Chinese troupes of acrobats have toured more than 100 countries and regions. Today there are more than 100 acrobat troupes throughout China.
The Beijing international Art School is one of China's centres of acrobatics. It is here that dreams are both made and crushed. Many new students find the intense training regime to be too difficult. The students live in small quarters and outside of their schooling they train for 60-70 hours a week. They start their training between the ages of six and eight and usually graduate 10 years later. Everyday of the year is packed with hard physical exercise, except for one four-day break during the Chinese New Year when the students are able to visit their family.
The long hours and hard work leave many of the children homesick and wanting to drop out. But they feel forced to stay and continue training because their parents worked hard or borrowed money to finance their education. In China, if you are talented, it is possible to make a good living as an acrobat and many parents see the education as a good investment. Despite homesickness, and injuries from hard training, the children are forced to endure and complete the education.