45 million Americans were able to see a performance, either live or on television.
Following the successful U.S. visit of China’s table tennis team in the spring of 1972, the National Committee began to explore the prospects for further exchanges. Before the year’s end, the opportunity presented itself when the Chinese government asked the Committee to host the Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe for a four-week, four-city tour. The visit was the first performing arts exchange between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
Co-hosted by New York’s City Center of Music and Drama, the Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe arrived on December 16, 1972. It gave its premier performance in Chicago two days later, thrilling an audience of over 3,000 people with a dazzling exhibition of acrobatic feats.
The troupe moved on to Indianapolis, New York, and Washington, D.C., playing to sell-out crowds wherever it performed. In the end, over 45,000 people saw its 18 performances and four dress rehearsals, and countless more enjoyed a nationally televised program that aired on ABC-TV a few months after the troupe’s departure.
In the words of Chang Ying-Wu, leader of the Troupe, the purpose of the visit was to “increase mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of the United States and China.” Judging by the warm response of the audiences, rave reviews in the press, and the rapport which quickly developed between Troupe members and the many Americans they met, their objective was fulfilled. The National Committee and City Center were also delighted with the unique opportunity to introduce Americans to one of China’s most popular art forms and went on to co-host two other major performing groups: the Wushu (Martial Arts) Company in June 1974 and the Chinese Performing Arts Delegation in July-August 1978.Click the images below for bigger versions: