SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
Students at Columbine Christian School got a double dose of culture this week – Martin Luther King Day on Monday and a troupe of acrobats from the Beijing Dragon Show on Wednesday.
The four acrobats, accompanied by coordinator and interpreter Christine Du, offered a performance that had the students bug-eyed for an hour.
The performers Wednesday – three men and a woman, who ranged in age from 15 to 24 – were Yang Liu, Dong Hu, Lele Wu and Xi Yang.
The grand finale, in which the three men, in a human tower three high, fell forward as one until they were at a 45-degree angle, then nimbly landed safely, drew a collective “oooooh.”
The troupe, one of four from the Beijing Dragon Show, performs about 300 times a year, Du said. The team will be in New Mexico today and California on Friday.
Du, who teaches elementary-school English back home, has been with the company for two years.
“I wanted a change of scene,” she said. “This is our first visit to Durango.”
Acrobatics, a Chinese art form that is millennia old, requires agility, flexibility, balance, strength and coordination, Du said.
“Acrobats start their career when they’re 4 or 5 years old,” Du said. “They train for about 10 years to become top performers.
“They continue until something doesn’t work or they don’t feel well,” Du said.
Columbine Principal May Oles said the school lucked out in getting the troupe.
“We keep our eyes open because Durango has limited multicultural opportunities,” Oles said. “We got a fax from the Beijing Dragon Show saying they were passing through the area and would give us a discounted rate.
“I think they probably notified other schools,” she said. “But we’re small and can act faster. Do we want them? Yes? Do we have the money? Yes? Let’s do it.”
The troupe dropped its rate from $700 a performance to $320, Oles said.
Lisa Lynch, a teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing at San Juan BOCES, used sign language so that a preschooler captured more than the visual aspect of the show.
A contingent from Grace Preparatory Academy attended.