The New Shanghai Circus™ returns to The Carolina Theatre this weekend to showcase the remarkable acrobatic and athletic skills of its all-star company of medal-winning Chinese gymnasts from Mainland China. Drawing upon a 2,500-year-old Chinese tradition, in which skills developed during work and play were demonstrated at village harvest festivals, the two performances will include chair balancing, contortionists, hoop diving, juggling, magic, traditional dance, and tumbling.

Before the show begins, there will be a variety of family-oriented kids’ activities on the plaza and in the theater lobby, according to a spokesman for The Carolina Theatre.

These extraordinary feats of strength and daring-sometimes involving farm implements, workshop tools, and household items and traditionally performed by craftsmen and peasants at the time of the lunar New Year-helped villagers celebrate the harvest.

Over the centuries, the great acrobatic families of China passed on their skills from generation to generation. They organized into professional acrobatic troupes, performing China’s traditional entertainment for city dwellers and rural villagers alike.

The New Shanghai Circus™ numbers among its predecessor organizations the Chong Magic Troupe, the Jiang Nan Acrobatic Troupe, and the Red Acrobatic Troupe.

In 1959, the Chinese government combined several of these acrobatic and magic troupes into the Shanghai Magic and Acrobatic Troupe. In 1991, the New Shanghai Circus™ was formed to perform overseas. In 1998, the troupe received China’s most coveted award, the gold medal for artistic creativeness and performance skill.

Since 1991, the New Shanghai Circus™ has toured the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and France. In 1998, the troupe started performing in Branson, Missouri. In 1999, the New Shanghai Circus™ played 28 sold-out performances at the New Victory Theater on Broadway in New York City.

The Carolina Theatre presents the New Shanghai Circus™ Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m. in Fletcher Hall, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham, NC. $15-$20. 919/560-3030. or try, although the site may have been disabled.