Chinese Acrobats Balance Out WIU

Erika Ward

Sigma Lambda Beta and the International Friendship Club at Western Illinois University brought a bit more culture to the evening on March 30 at the Multicultural Center – Asian culture that is.

  Suitzu Chen, Chou Wai, Chong Yen, Ming Sou Da — they don’t have English names, only Chinese so forgive my lack of experience in Chinese. The four Chinese Acrobats that performed began their training at the ages of seven and eight.  

 Strangely enough, this group specifically was from Lawrence, Kansas and covers much of the middle of the country.  There are two other acrobatic groups that cover the eastern and western parts of the country as well.

  From balancing acts and acrobatics to traditional Chinese dances, these performers were able to keep an audience entertained for 45 minutes.

 Luis Moctezuma, historian for Sigma Lambda Beta, was one of the students in charge of the event.

  “About a year or two ago, we had the Chinese Acrobats come for the International Bazaar, which is hosted by Casa Latina,” Moctezuma said. “We talked to Casa, and they helped us get in contact with the Chinese Acrobats and they came to us, and we also collaborated with the International Friendship Club.”

  Chinese food was available for $5 a plate.  Guests were able to choose between Mongolian beef and orange chicken for the entrée and were able to receive a side of rice (steamed or fried), an egg roll, a fortune cookie and a drink.

  The Multicultural Center doesn’t have a big stage or even that large of a room for the acrobats to perform in.  A large area in the middle of the open space of the building was sectioned off into a big square, taking up most of the room.  There weren’t any special effects or lighting, just music, food and acrobats.

  The way the room was set up was much like a dinner theater with tables set up in one area and chairs in the front and opposite side.  The only problem with the set up was that a majority of the people in the audience couldn’t see the performance from the front.  There were only two rows that were able to view the acrobats straight on.  

 Even with this hindrance, as the man in charge of the acrobats took the stage and began to prepare the audience, you could practically feel the excitement of all of the adults, students and children.

  Oriental music with a modern twist played through the speakers as the first act took the stage.

 You can tell just by looking into Suitzu Chen’s (the male performer) eyes that he loves to perform. Not all of his acts were completely without mistakes or on point, but his reactions to the things that went wrong were so charming and endearing that one couldn’t help but like him and smile and cheer for him with whatever he was doing.

  One of the best acts by far was the traditional Chinese spinning plate performance by the three female performers, Chou Wai, Chong Yen and Ming Sou Da.  

The performers come onto the stage with three tall sticks in each hand and plates spinning on the end of each one.

  A close second to this act was the Chinese yo-yo performance.  The three girls would do different flips, tosses and tricks while keeping their yo-yos spinning and in the air.  Each time a performer would do a toss the audience would cheer louder, especially the higher the toss went.

The evening didn’t just consist performances, though.  In between some of the acts, the man in charge of the acrobats would teach different Chinese phrases to the audience, such as “Hello” and “How are you?” and the appropriate responses.

  Overall, the evening was a success. The Chinese food, while not quite authentic, was still delicious and made watching the performance even more entertaining. The small children in the audience were so entertained that they actually sat still and quiet in the audience.