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BWW Interview: Artistic Director Steve Hai of PEKING ACROBATS at NJPAC 2/18

The Peking Acrobats have redefined audience's perception of Chinese acrobatics for more than 30 years. The acrobats perform daring maneuvers atop a precarious pagoda of chairs, but it doesn't stop there. The Peking Acrobats are masters at trick-cycling, precision tumbling, somersaulting, and gymnastics. With incredible displays of contortion, flexibility, and control, they defy gravity. The acrobat performers are often accompanied by live musicians who play traditional Chinese instruments as well high-tech special effects that make for unforgettable entertainment. The Peking Acrobats are will perform at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on Saturday, February 18th at 1:00 pm.

The Peking Acrobats are renowned performers, who have been featured on numerous television and TV specials including Nickelodeon's Unfabulous, Ellen's Really Big Show (host, Ellen Degeneres), The Wayne Brady Show, That's Incredible, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and NBC's Ring in the New Year Holiday Special. Since 2011, they have appeared regularly on NBC/Comcast's new 3D channel. They have also set the world record for the Human Chair Stack on Fox's Guinness Book Primetime TV show, where they balanced six people atop six chairs 21 feet up in the air without the use of safety lines. Their performances extend far beyond TV/Film as they travel worldwide to perform their fascinating talents.

Broadwayworld.com had the interesting opportunity to interview Steve Hai, the Artistic Director of the Peking Acrobats.

Hai has been around Chinese acrobatics his whole life because his father used to be an acrobat with the Chinese Acrobats of Taiwan. He has been the producer/director of IAI and The Peking Acrobats for over 30 years. As a child, he grew up traveling with the troupe and was very fortunate to have been able to see and do what most other children didn't have the chance to do. Later in Hai's teenage years, he was an assistant and got the opportunity to really learn the ropes. He was part of the excitement when the troupe got into the Guinness book of world records for Highest Human Chair Stack. Hai later started doing more for the company in film and television by coordinating and choreographing pieces.

Tell us a little about your role as Artistic Director of Peking Acrobats.

As the Artistic Director for the show, my role is a bit hard to define because it involves quite a few different elements overall look, feel, flow of the show. That involves some of the aspects of how we put together the acts, transitions, props, lighting, costumes and music.

What distinguishes the Peking Acrobats from other performance troupes?

I believe what sets us apart is we really try to touch on all your senses and emotions. One minute you are laughing and then next your hearts pumping and you're rooting for a performer then you can't breathe because of the tension in the room. We also have a traditional Chinese orchestra that plays along with us that really adds a sense of depth that you would not normally experience because they have to actively flow and change with the show.

How frequently does the troupe perform?

This varies from year to year but we typically have a tour that starts in Jan and usually ends in April. We also do a variety festivals and parks as well .

Why do you think NJPAC audiences will enjoy the experience of seeing Peking Acrobats?

I think the audiences will enjoy the show because in my opinion it's pure entertainment from start to finish. You have the opportunity to listen to live exotic chinese instruments that you normally would not hear in North America. You'll see incredible acts of balance and unbelievable feats of acrobatics. Don't want to give away too much. In this day and age of electronics and digital media I believe it's refreshing to be able to still witness something that is an age old art form that has evolved into what it is today. Not just on a screen either. Chinese acrobatics was first documented over 4000 years ago and didn't get popular till 2500 years ago. That's a lot of history that has been passed down for generations that the audiences get to take in whether they know it or not. It doesn't matter what your background is, your age, your religion, if you don't feel something from our show then we should be checking your pulse!

Tell us of any new or exciting plans for the future for Peking Acrobats.

I am always looking for ways to improve and evolve our show. Our goal is to have audiences come back year after year and still keep things fresh and exciting for them. We do have some things up our sleeves but you'll just have to wait and see.....

For more information on the Peking Acrobats, visit http://www.iaipresentations.com/pa.php.

The Pecking Acrobats is an exciting, cultural event, which is enjoyable for the whole Family. Locations and Directions: NJPAC is located at 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey. For Ticketing Information, visit http://www.njpac.org/ and for additional information call 1-888-GO-NJPAC (888-446-5722).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Peking Acrobats


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From This Author Katherine Reardon

Katherine Rose Reardon is a New Jersey native. She is a recent graduate of East Stroudsburg University having attained a BA in English Literature and (read more...)

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