What’s not to love about Chinese acrobats and dancers in fabulous costume and contortionate positions? The Chaoyang Theater Flying Acrobatic Show comes highly recommended — both by locals and by tourists — and we pre-booked tickets for the early (5.30pm) show so we wouldn’t be out too late.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
Dressed in a dramatic style, the Chaoyang Theatre is relatively small, so almost every row has a good view.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
Acrobats juggle and tumble and jump to impossibly tall heights to somersault through hoops. It's amazing to watch!

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
Each act features a different digital backdrop that changes the mood. In this lotus-flower performance, a troupe of teenage girls contorted and balanced themselves into pyramids.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
The hat-jugglers are comical with their golden outfits and exaggerated movements.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
Bowls are superbly balanced while the gymnasts also balance on each other. At one point, the stack of bowls fell — revealing that they're not really ceramic, nor are they separable! (This revelation took away some of the mystique and charm of the performance.)

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
The two hamster-wheels rotated around while the men took turns trick-walking on the outside or the inside of them.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
At least a dozen dancers balance on a single bicycle as it rides around in circles. The all started out on their own bicycles and eventually moved onto the same one.

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
When the first motorcyclist came out, revved his engine and then drove into the caged dome, I was convinced that the stunt was madness. By the time the number of motorcycles driving around the dome tripled — around and upside and somehow never colliding — I was sure they're not being paid enough!

Chaoyang Theatre Flying Acrobatic Show, Beijing, August 2014
We maxxed out at eight. There are five bikers driving around the cage and three more revving to join them. I doubt I'd see a stunt like this in any other country in the world!

I thought I took lots of photos of all the acts, but when sitting next to me and reviewing the photos, Calista said that her two favourite stunts — one involving drums and the other involving a stack of wine-goblets — weren’t shown. My favourite mental memory from the show is seeing the girls’ faces as they watched the performers. In a cute move that charmed her neighbours, Brioni considerately placed her toys on the backs of the seats so they could all see.

We love the curtain-call because we get to see the performers in their original costumes again!

It’s only a one-hour show, but after our busy day, that was still too long for four-year-old Lana who curled up in my lap and fell asleep. The other three girls remained enthralled throughout the performances, responding to the set-changes, extravagant costumes, the beat of the music and the thrill of the acts. It wasn’t so much of an introduction to Chinese culture as simply a form of pure entertainment, and I’m glad we fit the Chaoyang Theatre show into our whirlwind tour of Beijing’s highlights!