For China’s Abandoned Children, Acrobatics Is a Harsh Last Hope

Critics pan rural schools as exploitative and dangerous. Advocates say they fill a social need.

Kenrick Davis

Children from disadvantaged communities and migrant-parent homes in rural areas train as acrobats, finding a sense of purpose and belonging they might not have had otherwise. By Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone
Li Xiaogao watches a girl practice her tumbling in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Zhengyang performs in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Children move mats in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 22, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
A girl practices acrobatics in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Mengyu practices acrobatics in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 22, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Children practice acrobatics in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Children practice acrobatics in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 22, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Mengyu scrolls through her phone after a performance in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone
People livestream the children’s acrobatics performance in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 23, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone
Mengyu and Zhengyang practice acrobatics in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 22, 2019. Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone
Zhengyang and Mengyu perform in a shopping mall in Bozhou, Anhui province, March 24, 2019. Kenrick Davis/Sixth Tone

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