By Julia Beauregard
Hometown Weekly Editor
The Dover Town Library (DTL) welcomed locals to learn about our neighbors, on the other side of the planet, through a presentation on the history of Chinese acrobatics. The presentation was hosted by Li Liu, a solo acrobatic performer from China.
Liu shared with the crowd that she had been practicing acrobatics since she was only six years old, “I started doing acrobatics with my father, the first thing I learned from him was a handstand! Then I started going to circus school in the capital city of Beijing when I was only 7 years old.”
The performer shared that she would practice for eight hours a day to perfect her acrobatic skills. “I put a lot of hours of practice into the daytime for acrobatics, so I went to school at night.” Liu explained her nontraditional life to the attendees, going on to say that she began traveling the world at sixteen years old, performing in various countries all over the world.
The acrobat used this presentation to teach the audience members some Chinese phrases, such as “Hi, how are you?” and “thank-you!” She informs the crowd that now they can travel to China with no problem. She explains that: “I didn’t have a chance to go to school to learn English. I learned it through talking to people, writing in a notebook, and watching tv. My english isn’t perfect, but I am still learning.”
The presentation of Liu’s acrobatic display included hand balancing, plate spinning, ribbon dancing, diabolos, and foot juggling. She began the performance with a display of plate spinning, which amazed onlookers. Liu was able to contort her body while still spinning and balancing the plates with ease. It was truly a sight to be seen.
After this initial display, she invited audience members to give their hand at plate spinning. She taught the diverse group how to spin and balance the plates. Once they perfected this art, she had the volunteers pass the plates to one another.
Perhaps the most enchanting piece of the performance was the ribbon dance. The colorful ribbons glided through the air while Liu sashayed and swayed across the floor. Liu explained the importance of the ribbon dance: “Ribbon dance is a traditional Chinese dance. It is a very important tradition in the Chinese New Year.” During the Chinese New Year, citizens of China perform the ribbon dance daily for the fifteen-day celebration.
This allowed Liu to share different traditions during the Chinese New Year and indulge the crowd to learn about important aspects of her culture. She taught volunteers different ribbon dance moves, such as the dragon, firework, and small circle.
Liu gave a memorable performance and a wonderful lesson in Chinese culture, which had audience members not only questioning what their bodies were capable of: but what it might be like to grow up in a different time and place.
For more information on Li Liu, check out her website: https://www.acrobat-liliu.com/ and to stay up to date on events at the Dover Town Library, you can find their calendar of events on their website: http://dovertownlibrary.org/