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'Acrobatic town' taps into proud heritage to boost tourism

Updated: Oct 26, 2021 China Daily Print
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Performances at the Fifth Anhui Folk Acrobatic Art Festival, held in Linquan county, Anhui province, fascinate the audience. [Photo by Zhu Lixin/China Daily]

Linquan county of Fuyang, Anhui province, known as the "hometown of acrobatics", has a long history with the art form.

More than 20,000 of the county's 2.3 million residents are engaged in the business, bringing in a combined annual income of more than 500 million yuan ($78 million), according to the local government.

A major industry, acrobatics has always been popular in the county, though the sector has been facing difficulties as people's lives improve.

Wei Xuehong, 54, had been an acrobatic actor from the county's Weixiaozhuang village since childhood.

The villager was born into a poverty-stricken family and started to learn acrobatic skills from his parents when he was about 14.

"In that period, many of the local villagers would try to send their children to join acrobatic troupes," says Wei.

Weixiaozhuang has been known as "acrobatics village" with most of the households being engaged in such performances for generations.

Wei says he loves acrobatics, despite experiencing difficulty earning a living as he traveled around the world.

Three years ago, he retired from the business upon the request of his two sons to stay home and take care of his five grandchildren, while they continue to run the family business.

Returning home, Wei hung his wooden benches, which had been used for performances, high on the ceiling of the warehouse.

Hu Jun, in his 50s and one of the most famous among local acrobatic actors, chose to keep working.

Several years ago, he founded an acrobatic training school, but he laments the fact that as time goes on, he is recruiting fewer children.

"Acrobatics requires years of hard practice. You have to do it every day," says Hu, adding that, as a result, it is difficult for children to balance training with their schoolwork.

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