Page 14                                              Fall 1986

Flying boards travel East with Dai Shucheng


In his entire 40-year worldwide per­formance career. Dai Shucheng said he had never seen anything like the IJA convention. Likewise conventioneers got a first-time glimpse of a delicate ancient Chinese manipulative form - the flying boards.


The IJA's guest artist at the San Jose convention tossed up to five of the cross­tied sticks in graceful arcs around his body. He caught each one surely between his palms as it circled back to him, then waved happily to the last one as it approached as if saying. "Come home, you're safe now!"


Dressed in a shining gold silk costume. he used two-, four- and six- bladed models of the "fei-pan." He carried them as flat sticks with rounded ends in a small case. Two and three pieces were then tied together at the center with a deft spin of a small piece of string. The larger ones were fitted with a spike that allowed it to settle into his hat, still spinning. Another would land on the hat of a doll he held with a mouthstick.


Dai Shucheng required a large hall to perform his flying boards, tossing them well out over the audience. Ventilation was cut off before his act to avoid upsetting the flight of the props.

He performed in both the "Sensations" and "Delights" shows, hopping merrily across the stage and constantly smiling. giving the impression of a happy man play­ing with trained birds.


"The Chinese look at an act as a unity of many arts - costumes, physical skills, the backdrop and the music," said Dai Shucheng through a translator. "I developed the fei-pan as. an act, but it belongs to China."


The fei-pan came to art from hunting and war. Mongolian tribes used it in battle and to kill game in much the same way Aboriginal people used boomerangs. Born into a circus family, Dai Shucheng began performing as an 8- year-old juggler in Shanghai in 1944. He juggled clubs and balls, and also practiced the art of swinging jars of water without spilling them. Shortly before moving to Ha Er Bin in the Hei Long Jiang province, he and a teacher began developing his act with the fei-pan, That has been his interest ever since.


The 90 performers of the Hei Long Jiang Acrobatic Troupe. of which he is a member, perform for about 90 government functions and community meetings a year throughout China. Other acts include magicians, spinning plates, animal acts, umbrella manipulation. vase balancing, jumping through rings, ice skating, bicycle riding, acrobatics and "dragon dancers,"


Dai Shucheng serves as a team leader of a Hei Long Jaing juggling, magic and comedy troupe. The largely honorific title signifies his leadership position. He is also a correspondent for the magazine, "Acrobatism and Magic." a bi-monthly publication of the Chinese Acrobatic Artists Association. He took voluminous notes at the IJA convention and many rolls of photographs for a story he planned to write about his trip to San Jose, which was also his first visit to America.


There is no organization of jugglers in China. he said, but the China Acrobatic Artists Association serves many of the same functions. In 1967 there was a month-long festival of acrobatic troupes from throughout the country in Peking. and the association was one result. It now comprises almost 3.000 members from the 29 major Chinese troupes, and held another big festival in 1983. The latter festival featured competitions between acts. A Hei Long Jaing artist received the top prize for parasol manipulation.

Dai Shucheng supports a full load of Chinese flying boards.

Dai Shucheng supports a full load of Chinese flying boards.

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