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acrobatics The specialized art of jumping, tumbling, and balancing, requiring agility and skilful control of the body. The word derives from the Greek akrobatos, which may be translated ‘walking on tiptoe’, but which literally means ‘to go to the highest point’ (akros: highest; batos, from the verb for ‘to go’). While the etymology is Greek, the performing art of acrobatics has roots in ancient Chinese culture, where it emerged in tribal rituals related to daily activities. Work, intertribal relations, and religious sacrifices all had their own corresponding acrobatic movements as the art developed alongside music, song, and dance. Acrobatics has maintained its status as a spectacular bodily art; complex gymnastic feats are now often performed with apparatus such as balls, unicycles, trampolines, tightropes, and trapezes.
See also 26. ATHLETICS ; 395. TIGHTROPE WALKING .
- the acrobat’s art; hence, other kinds of stunts, as aircraft acrobatics. Also spelled acrobatism .
- one who performs feats that require an unusual sense of balance, as a tightrope walker.
- the art of walking a tightrope. —funambulist, n.
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