China first saw acrobatic performance 4,000 years ago during the Xia Dynasty. Now, it’s not only part of Chinese heritage, but perfect for cultural exchange with western nations—audiences worldwide are amazed by the balancing, seemingly-inhuman contortions and daredevil stunts performed by groups like Golden Dragon.
If I don’t like the way some color turned out I throw away those pieces and recut them from a different wood. When I’m happy with the colors I start shaping the pieces one at a time on a drum sander checking it against the piece before to get the height I want.
I cover every piece of wood I cut with clear packing tape. That lubricates my blades and makes cutting a little easier for me. I cut all the pieces and put them together to make sure I like the colors.
Unlike some acrobatic shows with variations of the same stunts performed throughout, Golden Dragon makes each act unique and feature both visual appeal and pushing the human body to its limitations.
When I decide what I want to make, I start going through my wood piles until I find all the colors I want to use. Then I plane the wood to get it all the same thickness. When I have all the wood ready, I start laying out the design or pattern, matching the woods’ grain direction with the way the design goes.
The only problems we ran into were an outdated program, with information referring to the 2008 show and an usher who asked our photographer to stop taking photos—despite her adherence to the theater’s no flash rule and the fact she was press. We talked it out, and she was allowed to continue.