Maui Arts & Entertainment

Human Pretzels & Acrobats – Oh My!

January 13, 2011, 11:37 PM HST
* Updated January 13, 11:48 PM
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by Maesyn

The world famous New Shanghai Circus arrives on Maui soil this month to present a visual spectacle of whirling acrobatics and contortionist tricks.

Prepare to “ooh” and “ahh” as some of the world’s most gifted performance artists perform at the MACC’s Castle theater on Monday, January 17th at 4:00 and 7:30 pm, and on Tuesday, January 18th at 7:00 pm.

The Chinese are not only famous for their acrobatic skills, they are the creators of the art form.


Stemming back through generations, each lineage of highly prized acrobatic skills was honed and passed from father to son. This bloodline of physical flexibility, agility, strength and nimbleness developed over the course of thousands of years.


Acrobatics began as a means of celebration, entertainment, and status elevation in poor farming communities.

During cold barren winters, the farmers and tradesmen of Chinese communities would practice and perform stunning feats using the tools of their crafts and common household items. These competitions grew popular during harvest rituals, and eventually became a way that a peasant might break through the ranks of social hierarchy.


“It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with what you’ve got,” goes the old adage.

What they did with what they had was transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. These physically inclined artists could spin plates on the end of a bamboo stick, flip bowls with their feet, balance on tall stacks of chairs, create human pyramids, and fold themselves into small spaces.

During the Han dynasty in China (several thousand years ago), these gypsy circus folk began emerging in society with increased visibility. Magicians, jugglers, and acrobats became popular entertainment for emperors and commoners alike.

These ancient circus traditions have been cultivated by the New Shanghai Circus and seamlessly woven together with modern choreography and groundbreaking acrobatic creativity. As human beings become pretzels, you may just bend your own perspective on what is possible.

Bring your kids, or just bring the inner child inside of you, to be awed by human potential.

Tickets are $12, $19, and $25, plus applicable fees.

You can find more information or buy tickets online at the MACC’s website.

* If you have ideas for events or artists you’d like to see profiled by MauiNOw’s Entertainment & Arts section, please email [email protected]

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