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Art of jumping, tumbling, and balancing. The art is of ancient origin; acrobats performed leaps, somersaults, and vaults at Egyptian and Greek events. Acrobatic feats were featured in the commedia dell'arte theatre in Europe and in jingxi (Peking opera) in China. The later use of apparatuses such as poles, tightropes, and flying trapezes made acrobatics a major attraction in circus performances. Its popularity increased in the 20th century with such performers as the Flying Wallendas (seeKarl Wallenda).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on acrobatics, visit Britannica.com.