Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Acrobats in a Paris suburb, by Viktor Vasnetsov (1877)

Acrobatics (from Greek Akros, high and bat, walking)
is one of the performing arts, and is also practiced as a sport.
Acrobatics involves difficult feats of balance, agility
and motor coordination. Nearly any performance or sport which
involves full-body activity-- especially in short,
highly controlled bursts of activity-- can be considered acrobatics.
Typical examples are, first and foremost, all the subdivisions
of gymnastics and trapeze work, but specialized activities like ballet
and diving could also be included. In a narrow sense, the term
"acrobatics" refers to "acrobatic gymnastics,"
a specialized subdivision of gymnastics.

Though initially the term applied to tightrope walking, in the
19th century, a form of performance art, including circus acts
began to use the term as well. In the late 19th century, tumbling
and other acrobatic/gymnastic activities became
a competitive sport in Europe.

In China, acrobatics (“Hundred Plays”) have been a part of the culture
since the Western Han Dynasty, over 2500 years ago.
Acrobatics were part of village harvest festivals.

The first use of acrobatics as a specific sport
was in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and the first
world championships were in 1974. In addition to the current
five categories, two additional categories for tumbling
(men's and women's) were included until the
1999 World Championships, though some groups still involve
tumbling events.