He may be called an acrobat, a juggler; a tightrope walker... is a human being with the wonderful ability to force his body to perform tour de force and equilibrium beyond possible limits. This superhuman ability surely was the first artistic expression in the history of humanity aimed at amazing his fellows. Egyptian papyrus, pre-Columbian sculptures, Greek and Hindu paintings and almost all the records of past cultures have immortalized the wonders performed by acrobats. But there are two places where this expression has reached its highest level: China and Italy.
For millenniums, acrobatic arts have been developed in China nearly reaching perfection, highlighting the natural differences between both genders; men have specialized in performing acrobatic exercises that praise strength and vitality using arms and banners while women have perform tours de force and equilibrium with tools commonly associated to the domestic environment where they were carried out: mugs, glasses, umbrellas, fans and chairs.
In Italy, since Roman times, groups of acrobats wandered villages and cities amazing people with their shows. In the Middle Ages people known as "jugglers" (persons who leap on benches) set the foundations of western acrobatics. Offspring of these first jugglers have been present, in places of honor in the top moments in the history of the circus.
At present we could divide acrobatic acts in three categories: Ground exercises (jumps, acrobatic leaps, human pyramids, etc.), Attrezzo exercises (using props, trampolines, ladders, poles or any other accessory), and Air exercises, which are specialties where the acrobat is called a trapeze artist, tightrope walker, or aerialist, instead.