by Xinhua writers Li Binian, Wang Linyuan
ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- On a small stage in Dongbeizhuang Village, 30-year-old acrobat Liu Desheng climbs onto a spinning pillar, slowly balances his body and "walks" in the air. "Walking in outer space," is his piece de resistance.
Liu is one of hundreds of acrobats in Dongbeizhuang, a village in central China's Henan Province, one of the birthplaces of Chinese acrobatics.
Liu's performances are widely applauded and he has won plenty of medals both at home and abroad. Despite his success, Liu has his doubts.
"After the third fracture of my arm in 2009, I thought of giving up," said Liu.
It was in Dongbeizhuang that he fell in love with acrobatics again. He first came to the village because of his wife, also an acrobat. Having seen the villagers' perform, the idea of giving up was forgotten.
"The extensive use of farm tools in the performance gives the audience a sense of familiarity," said Liu. "For me, the village is a paradise."
Dongbeizhuang, with a population of only 2,800, used to be very poor village and acrobatics was a means of subsistence.
The barren land forced villagers to find other ways to make a living. Most of them chose acrobatics.
When there was nothing to do in the land, villagers practiced acrobatics with their tools, such as a straw hat and a hoe.
Currently, more than 400 acrobats from the village perform on stages domestic and abroad. Thirty-seven of them are heads of troupes.
In 2008, acrobatics in Dongbeizhuang was listed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of China. With support of local authorities, more acrobats are returning to the village to teach their techniques.
Qiao Jinsheng, who is the 6th generation of the renowned "Qiao family acrobatics troupe," is one of the returnees. Over the years, he has taught more 1,200 students.
"I will continue to perform and teach acrobatics in the village as long as my health allows," said Qiao, 76.
With a successful career and a happy family, Liu Desheng is pretty much satisfied. Now he is recruiting students from neighboring villages.
"I will teach kids my acrobatic techniques and tell them the different expectations of people worldwide, so that the ancient art from this small village can go global," he said.