Stilt Walkers have been performing for many hundreds of years. With poles, posts or pillars strapped to their legs, for the purpose of walking above a normal height, they not only are able to conduct activities suited to the extra height but add variety to the pedestrian traffic: An attractive feature for public events.
Although now most commonly seen in festivals, fairs and street parades, their original use was much more mundane – Shepherds of Landes (France) drove their flocks across the marshes, going through boggy bushes, brushes and pools of water without having to seek roads or established footpaths. This elevation allowed them to easily watch their sheep, which were often spread over a great distances. For many years, stilts have been used for the washing of large windows, the repairing of thatched roofs, and the installation or painting of high ceilings. Today, stilts are most commonly used for drywall construction plastering and trim finish painting in the building industry. In California, aluminium stilts are commonly used by fruit farmers to prune and harvest their peach, plum, and apricot trees.
For the dazzling festival performer such as you might see at a world expo or international event, simulated falls and recovery, spins, flips and plucking a flower from the ground and skipping ropes are movements which are mastered by truly skilled performers who are not content to simply display their lavish costumes. The variety of Circus style stilt acts is endless, being one of the most common skills taught to budding circus performers, it is quickly grasped and yet takes many years to master the subtleties of running jumping and acrobatics which are most famously displayed by Chinese acrobatic stilt walkers.