RED WING, Minn. — A group of young Chinese athletes/artists who have been developing their skills since childhood will return to Red Wing on Feb. 23 to present an evening of athleticism and heart-stopping stunts.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats will perform at 7 p.m. at the Sheldon Theatre.
The showcase combines award-winning acrobats, traditional dance and colorful costumes with ancient and contemporary music to create an event that is as breathtaking as it is beautiful, Sheldon officials said.
Because the troupe performs at venues of all sizes and shapes across the globe, the acrobats are prepared to adapt their performance to the Sheldon stage. The ensemble has been doing just that for more than three decades.
“Over the years,” spokesman Jeremy Chang explained, “the coaches and acrobats have done on-the-spot adaptation to whatever the theater throws at them.”
They perform in many small communities as well as large cities, said Chang, a business development coordinator for the troupe.
“If the place is very small, when they see it they might change the lineup and the show,” he said, adding that the end result will always be a full production the audience can enjoy.
This year’s touring group consists of 25 acrobats plus a coach, a tour manager/technical director, and two others who serve as drivers and handle props and maintenance of costumes.
“The acrobats were all trained at a young age” at the Golden Dragon Acrobats school in China, Chang said. The company is led by Danny Chang, who was trained by his father at the school in Taipei. He started performing when he was 10.
Danny Chang, who inherited the acrobats from his father in 1984, is the producer and director of the showcase. His wife, Angela Chang, is the choreographer.
“He is with the tour” coming to Red Wing, Jeremy Chang said. “I think what sets our group apart when it comes to the stage, is that he takes it very, very seriously.
“He does not stay behind. He chooses to travel with the group as much as he can. All the acrobats love him – he’s an acrobat himself. His presence is definitely felt.”
The acrobats who will perform at the Sheldon range in age from 17 to about 25, Jeremy Chang said, plus the prop manager is a former member of the troupe. Acrobats peak at about that age, he added – depending what they do.
Males who perform explosive acts such as hoops and females who are contortionists must keep themselves in very good shape and eat healthy foods to maintain their ability to perform at a high level, he said. They will get less flexible as they age.
Many graduates of the Golden Dragon program have gone on to perform with prestigious companies such as Cirque du Soleil or, in the past, Ringling Brothers Circus.
“It’s quite an honor to be called the training ground” for those companies, Chang said.
Although there will not be outreach activities in the community during this visit, there is an inherent cultural aspect to the production, officials said.
Every costume reflects that cultural tradition, Chang said, “from the headdress to the wrist piece to the custom shoes.” All are designed by the choreographer, and all are made in-house.
The music that accompanies the performance goes beyond traditional acrobat music, Chang noted. “It’s contemporary, modern Chinese and New Age,” depending on the show.
Reviewers worldwide have praised the group for its expertise in the centuries-old art form. “There is a precision and beauty about everything these performers do,” the Washington Post wrote. A New York Times reviewer commented, “Gravity? It doesn’t apply.”
Tickets are $26. Because the show is family-oriented it is designated a Kids Play Free show, which means a child under 14 will be admitted free with a paid adult admission. Additional youth tickets are $15.